Intended for healthcare professionals

Letters Risk illiteracy

The real problem is the biomedical ignorance of statisticians

BMJ 2011; 342 doi: (Published 21 April 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:d2579
  1. Sam Shuster, emeritus professor of dermatology1
  1. 1University of Newcastle upon Tyne, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
  1. sam{at}

Heath’s review supports a book that gives a “devastating dissection of the statistical illiteracy of doctors,”1 when the real problem is the devastating biomedical ignorance of statisticians.

Why should a doctor need to know how to calculate the chance of breast cancer in a patient with a positive screening mammogram, given …

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