course ID: 2.3

Understanding research and biostatistics for public health practitioners and policy makers


Understanding, evaluating and interpreting the results from medical research is essential for public health practitioners and policy makers. Challenges include appreciating the strengths and biases in study design, understanding the use (and abuse) of statistics, and misrepresentation in the reporting of results.

This course will cover matters of study design in medical research, key statistical concepts and critical appraisal of published reports.

  • Different study designs will be considered including case-control studies, cohort studies and randomised controlled trials.
  • Key statistical concepts will be introduced including the main types of outcome, the use of effect measures and confidence intervals, and the use and role statistical hypothesis testing.
  • Reporting from clinical studies will consider how effects might be misrepresented and misinterpreted.

A wide variety of examples will be used to illustrate these issues from a range of diseases areas and from low, middle and high income countries.

Tim Clayton


Associate Professor in Medical Statistics, Department of Medical Statistics Clinical Trials Unit London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM)