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Introduction to statistical simulations in health research

Boulesteix, A-L; Groenwold, RH; Abrahamowicz, M; Binder, H; Briel, M; Hornung, R; Morris, TP; ... for the STRATOS Simulation Panel; + view all (2020) Introduction to statistical simulations in health research. BMJ Open , 10 (12) , Article e039921. 10.1136/bmjopen-2020-039921. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

In health research, statistical methods are frequently used to address a wide variety of research questions. For almost every analytical challenge, different methods are available. But how do we choose between different methods and how do we judge whether the chosen method is appropriate for our specific study? Like in any science, in statistics, experiments can be run to find out which methods should be used under which circumstances. The main objective of this paper is to demonstrate that simulation studies, that is, experiments investigating synthetic data with known properties, are an invaluable tool for addressing these questions. We aim to provide a first introduction to simulation studies for data analysts or, more generally, for researchers involved at different levels in the analyses of health data, who (1) may rely on simulation studies published in statistical literature to choose their statistical methods and who, thus, need to understand the criteria of assessing the validity and relevance of simulation results and their interpretation; and/or (2) need to understand the basic principles of designing statistical simulations in order to efficiently collaborate with more experienced colleagues or start learning to conduct their own simulations. We illustrate the implementation of a simulation study and the interpretation of its results through a simple example inspired by recent literature, which is completely reproducible using the R-script available from online supplemental file 1.

Type: Article
Title: Introduction to statistical simulations in health research
Location: England
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1136/bmjopen-2020-039921
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2020-039921
Language: English
Additional information: © Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2020. Re-use permitted under CC BY-NC. No commercial re-use. See rights and permissions. Published by BMJ. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited, appropriate credit is given, any changes made indicated, and the use is non-commercial. See: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/.
Keywords: epidemiology, protocols & guidelines, statistics & research methods
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Inst of Clinical Trials and Methodology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Inst of Clinical Trials and Methodology > MRC Clinical Trials Unit at UCL
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10117902
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