By: Sa Medical Research Council  12-08-2011
Keywords: Health Research, Medical Research

Biostatistical services and training

Biostatistical Services
The Biostatistics Unit (BU) of the MRC provides:

  • Statistical
  • Methodological
  • Data Encoding

support to medical and health researchers working within the national and international health research network of the MRC.

  • The nature of our support is collaborative and we provide input into the design of the protocol, questionnaire or data capture design, statistical analysis, statistical reporting and statistical review of reports and manuscripts.
  • Our methodological developments are used to enhance the inference of collaborative projects and this work often forms the basis for post-graduate studies and first-authored publications.
  • Data capture of questionnaires or data forms into various databases by our data encoders form an integral part of our support and ensures good data quality.

Research projects funded from the MRC baseline budget are supported free of charge whereas contract work is supported on a fee for service basis through a formal agreement.

Although the BU has 3 regional offices situated in Pretoria, Cape Town and Durban, each office has a complement of senior and junior statistical staff and data encoders.

Persons to contact for statistical support:

Data Encoding
Our data encoders are available to do data encoding from questionnaires or data forms into various databases. They work closely with the biostatisticians and in collaboration will accept incoming data.

Data encoders to contact:

The BU staff are also involved in capacity development through the teaching of short courses at various universities and technikons in South Africa.

Statistical workshops are also conducted to cater for the specific needs of a health related organisation.

Courses presented by the BU:

  • Introduction to Biostatistics in Cape Town (Offered regularly in different regions)
    • Study designs in medical research
    • Measurement & Questionnaires
    • Exploring data: presenting data in graphs & tables
    • Summary statistics
    • Sampling distributions
    • Inference about 1 group: hypothesis testing, significance level, power & sample sizes
    • Mean, mean difference & proportion
    • Non-parametric
    • Inference about 2 independent groups
  • Advanced Biostatistics Course for MRC Researchers in Cape Town (July 2005)
    • Basic concepts in Epidemiological Research: Design of Research Studies, Outcome and Risk factors, Confounders and Effect modifiers
    • Exploratory Data Analysis: Categorical and Continuous data, Cross Tabulated data and missing data, Hypothesis testing
    • Logistic Regression: Introduction and interpretation, Multiple risk factors and confounding, Effect modification, Variable selection, Modelling dose response, Multivariate model interpretation
    • Correlated Data: Correlated survey data and analyses
    • Overview of Randomised Controlled Trials (RCT)
    • Selection of participants: inclusion and exclusion criteria, generalization of results
    • Interventions in control and experimental groups
    • Trial design: Individual level RCT designs, cluster RCT and their designs, randomisation
    • Outcome measurement/assessment and data collection
    • Sample Size
    • Qualitative evaluation of a RCT: Benefits and methodological aspects
    • Ethical aspects of a RCT: Clinical balance, Informed consent, Risks and benefits for participants, Conflicting interests, Withdrawal
    • Analysis strategies: Dummy tables, Intention to treat & per protocol, Confidence intervals, Hypothesis testing
    • Compliance or Adherence: Methods measuring compliance, Strategies to ensure participants' adherence
    • RCT Management/Conduction

The Introduction to Biostatistics workshop will be offered regularly in the different regions.

Keywords: Health Research, Medical Research

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Interlibrary lending ISD provides an interlibrary lending service to researchers by obtaining photocopies, books and / or micro-material not available in its collection from other institutions in Southern Africa as well as worldwide. Literature Searches Retrospective literature searches are conducted for MRC staff, MRC supported staff and private individuals/ organizations, by qualified information specialists.