What is Biostatistics?

In essence, statistics is a branch of mathematics, which is the study of the methods of collecting and analysing data. More specifically, statistics is the…

‘science of collecting, summarising, presenting and interpreting data, and of using that data to estimate the magnitude of associations and test hypotheses’


Kirkwood & Sterne 2003

Biostatistics is the science of collecting and analysing biologic or health data using statistical methods.

In medical research, statistical analysis allows investigators to draw conclusions about the characteristics of a population of interest, based on the data collected from just a sample of subjects from that population. Most statistical inferences in medical journals and clinical study reports are based on probability models. Probability theory is fundamental to understanding how investigators use the sample data to draw conclusions about the larger, unobserved population.

If you need to read medical literature or the results of clinical studies to apply them to clinical practice, you must have an understanding of the statistical methods to evaluate the expectations or limitations of those results.