Mixed Messages about Statistical Significance

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  • Format Texts
  • Language/s English
  • Target Audience Self-directed learning
  • EBM Stage 3 - Appraising evidence
  • Duration <5 mins
  • Difficulty Intermediate

Key Concepts addressed


It’s very difficult to capture the essence of statistical significance in a brief primer. (Journalist Christie Aschwanden published a thoughtful piece, “Not even scientists can easily explain P values.”)

First, let’s at least be as concerned about clinical significance as we are about statistical significance. Journalists should keep that in mind as they write stories about studies, but it’s a good idea for the general public to understand the possible difference as well. In other words, did the result make a difference in people’s lives?

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