Math, Marketing and Medical Studies

Posted on September 27, 2006  Comments (1)

Treat Me? by Darshak Sanghavi:

What, after all, does a 31 percent relative reduction in heart attacks mean? In the case of the 1995 study, it meant that taking Pravachol every day for five years reduced the incidence of heart attacks from 7.5 percent to 5.3 percent. This indeed means that there were 31 percent fewer heart attacks in patients taking the drug. But it also means that the “absolute risk” of a heart attack for any given person dropped by only 2.2 percentage points* (from 7.5 percent to 5.3 percent).

I must say this seems pretty obvious to me, but I would agree this might not be obvious to many, unfortunately (see: Scientific Illiteracy and the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement). And yes I don’t put it past people to present things in ways which benefit the presenter, with the hope of taking advantage of math challenged (just look at all the ridiculous mortgage and other loan marketing).

Related: Middle School MathThe Economic Benefits of MathMath in the “Real World”

One Response to “Math, Marketing and Medical Studies”

  1. Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog » Bisphenol A
    April 7th, 2007 @ 2:48 pm

    Examining the existing evidence to see if there is a high likelihood of danger is not that tricky (that seems to be no, right now, for Bisphenol A). But determining whether the likelihood of danger is too high in reality (not that has been proved yet) is much more difficult…

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