talk on “Quantifying Clinical Uncertainty in times of Crisis” at 2pm (eastern) on Friday Oct 9

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Ken Frank

Oct 5, 2020, 3:03:51 PM10/5/20
to KonFound-it!

I will be giving a talk on “Quantifying Clinical Uncertainty in times of Crisis” at 2pm (eastern) on Friday Oct 9. It is a brownbag for MSU social psych.  Zak Neal is the host.  (Password: brownbag)  Do not broadly distribute.

Quantifying Clinical Uncertainty in times of Crisis: How Different Would a Sample have to be to Change an Inference? [see attached paper]


Early evidence on the efficacy of a treatment often comes from single studies accompanied by a high degree of uncertainty. This is true even for a well-designed and executed randomized controlled trial, as control and treatment groups can be imbalanced, unintentionally by an experimenter’s action or simply by chance. Unfortunately, conventional methods for expressing that uncertainty -- standard errors and confidence intervals -- are statistical constructs notoriously prone to misinterpretation. This problem is amplified by the COVID-19 global pandemic, where it is crucial that a broad set of stakeholders have a common understanding of the strength of the inferences drawn from emerging research. In this paper, we present an approach for expressing the robustness of study inferences in terms of hypothetical changes to the underlying data. This generates statements such as “The inference would change if xx of the treatment patients who experienced a benefit were replaced by patients for whom there was no effect of the treatment.” This characterizes the confidence of an inference in relatable terms that presume little statistical knowledge and, similar to the concept of fragility, can be particularly helpful in identifying studies where statistically significant results might not be particularly robust.





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Check out our Causal inference and COVID working paper:


Our approach to school governance:



Ken Frank

MSU Foundation Professor of Sociometrics

Measurement and Quantitative Methods

Counseling, Educational Psychology and Special Education

Room 462 Erickson Hall

620 Farm Lane

Michigan State University

East Lansing, MI 48824-1034 phone: 517-355-9567 fax: 517-353-6393


pronouns he/him/his


Quantifying Clinical Uncertainty in times of Crisis submit JCE.pdf
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