Intended for healthcare professionals

Endgames Statistical Question

Units of sampling, observation, and analysis

BMJ 2015; 351 doi: (Published 09 October 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;351:h5396
  1. Philip Sedgwick, reader in medical statistics and medical education1
  1. 1Institute for Medical and Biomedical Education, St George’s, University of London, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to: P Sedgwick p.sedgwick{at}

Researchers sought the views of the British public on the acceptability of the use of personal medical data for the purposes of public health research and surveillance without individual consent. A cross sectional study was performed by the Office for National Statistics. A survey was constructed to ascertain the acceptability of the use of identifiable information for public health purposes in the context of the National Cancer Registry. The participants were recruited using multistage sampling of adults in the UK during March and April 2015. The multistage sampling consisted of three stages. At the first stage a sample of postal districts in the UK was selected at random, with the probability of selection proportional to size. Within each district, a random sample of private households was selected. In households with more than one adult, one person was selected at random. Face to face interviews were carried out with 2872 adults.1

Of the 2872 respondents, 72% (95% confidence interval 70% to 74%) did not consider any of the following to be an invasion of their privacy by the National Cancer Registry: inclusion of postcode, inclusion of name and address, or the receipt of a letter inviting them to a research study on the basis of inclusion in the registry. It was concluded that most of the British public does not …

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