P2-28: What Do Faculty in the Health Sciences Know about Statistics?

With Matthew Hayat (Georgia State University); Michael Jiroutek (Campbell University); MyoungJin Kim (Illinois State University); Todd Schwartz (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill)


A major purpose of statistics education is to prepare graduates for the appropriate use of statistics in the workplace. Some of these graduates will become faculty in the health sciences, where they may have teaching responsibilities, as well as conducting their own research. This often necessitates utilizing statistical thinking and methods across a spectrum of health topics, and includes in it the formulation of the research question, consideration of study design, selection of instrumentation, analysis of data, and interpretation of results. Although health sciences faculty are well-versed and serve as experts in their own respective fields of study, little is known about their knowledge of, and comfort level with, statistics. The purpose of this study was to assess health sciences faculty’s knowledge level in statistics. In order to assess and quantify this, a probability sample of 800 faculty members in schools of nursing, medicine, pharmacy, and public health were selected and invited to complete a brief online survey that included 9 demographic-related questions and a 10-question statistics knowledge instrument. Our findings will help statistics educators in multiple ways. First, they will serve to target the needs of this student population; allowing instructors to align their courses to meet those needs. For instance, statistics educators may learn which specific statistical topics are best included and emphasized in curriculum of study in order to better prepare students majoring in, or later studying, the health sciences. Results of this work may also serve to inform decisions at the curricular level for statistics education in health sciences academic programs. Finally, our work provides current data as evidence for needed continuing education programs focused on applied statistics for current health sciences faculty.