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Year : 2001  |  Volume : 14  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 287-294

Integrating a Primer Course in Biostatistics into the Haematology Practicals of First-Year Medical Students in India

Department of Physiology, St John's Medical College, India

Correspondence Address:
Mario Vaz
Department of Physiology, St John' s Medical College , Bangalore 560034
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

Context: In India, biostatistics in the medical curriculum is usually taught as a separate course, using either ``imaginary'' data or data from the literature. Knowledge of statistics is particularly important in the context of ``evidence-based medicine''. Objective: To evaluate the efficacy of a biostatistics course integrated into the practical haematology first-year medical course with the following special characteristics: ( 1 ) students learn statistics on data generated by and on themselves, ( 2 ) the course avoids mathematical computation, ( 3 ) the statistical exercises are link ed to the learning objectives of the physiology curriculum, and ( 4 ) the course is without the threat of university examinations. Methods: Statistical exercises were incorporated into specific haematology practicals with the aim of covering simple descriptive and inferential statistics. Statistics tests were administered, without prior information, to 60 first-year medical students before the biostatistics course, immediately following the course, and nine months later. Fifty-four students completed all three evaluations. Results: Students had a poor knowledge of statistics at baseline. They substantially increased their scores in the statistics test immediately following the biostatistics course. These scores remained higher than baseline nine months after completion of the course, although there was a small decline in the absolute scores when compared with scores soon after the biostatistics course. Implications: Integrating biostatistics into other subjects in the medical curriculum may be an important addition to ``stand alone'' courses in biostatistics.

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