Identifying and Interpreting Statistics in Research Articles


This assessment requires you to read two articles and answer a series of questions in no more than
2000 words.
Most public health and wider health science journals report some form of statistics. The ability to
understand and extract meaning from journal articles, and the ability to critically evaluate the
statistics reported in research papers are fundamental skills in public health.
Paper 1: Lam, T., Liang, W., Chikritzhs, T., & Allsop, S. (2014). Alcohol and other drug use at school
leavers’ celebrations. Journal of Public Health, 36(3), 408-416. Retrieved from:
Read the Lam et. al. (2014) research article and answer the following questions:
1. This paper presents two hypotheses. State the null and alternative hypothesis for each one,
and describe the independent and dependent variables for each hypothesis.
2. What kind of sampling method did they use, and what are the advantages and
disadvantages of recruiting participants in this way?
3. What are the demographic characteristics of the people in the sample? Explain by referring
to the descriptive statistics reported in the paper.
4. What inferential statistics were used to analyse data in this study, and why?
5. What is the odds ratio for engaging in unprotected sex (compared with those who engaged
in safety strategies with the greatest frequency)? Interpret this by explaining what the odds
ratio is telling us, including any variables that were controlled for in the model.
6. How representative do you think the sample is of the national population of schoolies?
Explain why.

Paper 2: Wong, M. C., S., Leung, M. C., M., Tsang, C. S., H., . . . Griffiths, S. M. (2013). The rising tide
of diabetes mellitus in a Chinese population: A population-based household survey on 121,895
persons. International Journal of Public Health, 58(2), 269-276. Retrieved from:
Read the Wong et. al. (2014) paper and answer the following questions:
1. Describe the aims of the study. Can either aim be restated in terms of null and alternative
hypotheses? Describe these where possible.
2. What are the demographic characteristics of the people in the sample? Explain by referring to
the descriptive statistics reported in the paper.
3. What inferential statistics were used to analyse data in this paper, and why?
4. What did the researchers find when they adjusted the prevalence rates of diabetes for age and
5. Interpret the odds ratios for self-reported diabetes diagnosis to explain who is at the greatest
risk of diabetes.
6. What impact do the limitations described by the researchers have on the extent to which the
results can be trusted, and why?

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