Table 2

Classification of statistical methods (after Emerson and Colditz, 1983) [10]


Brief description

No statistical methods or descriptive statistics

No statistical content, or descriptive statistics only (e.g., percentages, means Standard deviations, standard errors, histograms

Contingency tables

Chi-square tests, Fisher's test, McNemar's test

Multiway tables

Mantel-Haenszel procedure, log-linear models

Epidemiological studies

Relative risk, odds ratio, log odds, measures of association, sensitivity, specificity


One-sample, matched pair, and two sample t- tests

Pearson correlation

Classic product-moment correlation

Simple linear regression

Least-squares regression with one predictor and one response variable

Multiple regression

Includes polynomial regression and stepwise regression

Analysis of variance

Analysis of variance, analysis of covariance, and F-tests

Multiple comparisons

Procedures for handling multiple inferences on same data sets (e.g., Bonferroni techniques, Scheffe's contrasts, Duncan's multiple range procedures, Newmann-Keuls procedure)

Non-parametric tests

Sign test, Wilcoxon signed ranks test, Mann- Whitney test, Spearman's rho, Kendall's tau, test for trend

Life table

Actuarial life table, Kaplan-Meier estimates of survival

Regression for survival

Includes Cox regression and logistic regression

Other survival analysis

Breslow's Kruskal Wallis, log rank, Cox model for comparing survival

Adjustment & standardisation

Pertains to incidence rates and prevalence rates

Sensitivity analysis

Examines sensitivity of outcome to small changes in assumptions


Loosely defined, includes use of the size of detectable (or useful) difference in determining sample size


Use of data transformation (e.g., logs) often in regression

Cost-benefit analysis

The process of combining estimates of cost and health outcomes to compare policy alternatives


Anything not fitting the above headings includes cluster analysis, discriminant analysis, and some mathematical modelling

Rigby et al. BMC Medical Research Methodology 2004 4:28   doi:10.1186/1471-2288-4-28

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