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View Diary: Doctors Like Public Option, Especially As A Choice (126 comments)

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  •  see, here's the thing (0+ / 0-)

    my undergrad degree was in the 'hard' science of biology/molecular genetics, and then I enrolled in some graduate poli sci courses where I had to study statistics and study design for social sciences, so I have had exposure to the difference in how the scientific method is applied in "hard" sciences and "soft" sciences. This, before I went to med school. It has given me an interesting perspective on interpreting data.

    I certainly understand how samples for these kinds of surveys are chosen, and I understand that these are often dependent on voluntary participation. But don't you need to have a certain percentage of participation to make such a study have validity? I seem to remember pretty clearly that if you don't have a certain level of participation, then you cannot reliably extrapolate your responses to the broader population your sample is designed to represent, because there are inherently differences between responders and non-responders. Have I misunderstood this all this time? It seemed to be a very big issue in the courses I took.

    Diversity may be the hardest thing for a society to live with, and perhaps the most dangerous thing for a society to be without - W S Coffin

    by stitchmd on Mon Sep 14, 2009 at 08:47:57 PM PDT

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    •  "Depends upon sample size," is the simple answer. (1+ / 0-)
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      Geez....this reminds me of conversations with my son, who was a physics major and grad student. Talk about esoteric.......

      I should also add that some of my friends in the physical sciences are guilty of using statistical techniques when the data doesn't meet the assumptions of the technique. And, yes, some social science colleagues have stretched credulity from time to time.

      •  clinincal trials are often (0+ / 0-)

        small differences between large groups that are tough to match properly. But imagine a poll of Smith v Jones where Smith had 73 and Jones had 27 (the difference here between public option pref and private alone). Slice and dice the poll all you want. Jones is losing, unless you accidentally polled Smith family members and no one else.

        For perspective, in politics, 55-45 is a landslide. In health reform, lower cost and improve access are tied as issues. So what's 73-27? it ain't chopped liver.

        "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

        by Greg Dworkin on Tue Sep 15, 2009 at 05:11:43 AM PDT

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    •  it has little to do with the response rate (3+ / 0-)
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      DemFromCT, rhp, stitchmd

      For instance, we know that incentives can increase the response rate and increase bias simultaneously.

      It would be a non-starter to suggest that we should disregard the results of this survey because its response rate was 'only' in the 40s. It would also a non-starter to argue that the poll should be discounted because it was administered by mail (although that would be a greater concern if there were no attempt to follow up with initial non-respondents).

      It's true that non-response bias is possible even when the measured demographics of the respondents are similar to those of the non-respondents, as they generally are in this case. It would be possible even if the response rate were substantially higher. That's an additional source of possible error, and good researchers do bust their guts trying to minimize it and to evaluate it. However, it isn't a reason to disregard the results.

      •  thank you (0+ / 0-)

        you said it better than I did.

        "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

        by Greg Dworkin on Tue Sep 15, 2009 at 05:12:14 AM PDT

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      •  ....and there are some fairly standard techniques (1+ / 0-)
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        in mail surveys to encourage greater response rates. For example, send out a letter saying a survey is coming, send out the survey, send out a reminder, after a couple of weeks send out a second copy of the instrument (if it has not been returned), send out another reminder, ad nauseum. And, yes, those things work.

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