For many of us, the term evidence-based medicine represents the use of clinical research along with clinical expertise to deliver optimal patient care to all patients. This would hopefully indicate that it’s critical for clinicians to understand the biostatistics design and other complex methodology used in medical research to be able to appropriately appraise the medical literature and to draw correct conclusions. It is disappointing however that, despite the fact that pharmacy and medical literature is on the rise in terms of incorporating complex statistical tools and methods, the understanding and application of biostatistics is poor among medical and pharmacy professionals and trainees.
To investigate this further, Bookstaver and colleague administered a survey to postgraduate year 1 (PGY1) residents in American Society of Health-System Pharmacists-accredited residency programs to determine the level of biostatistics understanding and overall confidence and attitude related to biostatistics concepts. Unfortunately, the results correlated with previous reports that were published a decade ago. Pharmacy residents' perception and understanding of biostatistics were poor in this assessment and, of those who responded to at least one knowledge assessment, the overall mean biostatistics knowledge score was only 47.3%.
It is important to note that the results of this survey do not necessarily point to the fact that there is a lack of training in biostatistics but it does serve as a call to action for all those involved in pharmacy education to incorporate more biostatistics and to reinforce these skills. For residency programs, structured emphasis on application skills through formal journal club opportunities, incorporation into daily practice and patient care, and role modeling by preceptors on its use may further develop these skills.
Bookstaver PB, Miller AD, Felder TM, et al. Assessing Pharmacy Residents’ Knowledge of Biostatistics and Research Study Design. Ann Pharmacother 2012;46:991-9.
Ferrill MJ, Norton LL, Blalock SJ. Determining the statistical knowledge of pharmacy practitioners: a survey and review of the literature. Am J Pharm Educ 1999;63:371-6.