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Coyne: Bad stats, non sequitur conclusions in Lancet chronic fatigue syndrome/suicide study

Discussion in 'General ME/CFS News' started by Cheshire, Feb 16, 2016.

  1. Cheshire

    Cheshire Senior Member

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    https://jcoynester.wordpress.com/20...lancet-chronic-fatigue-syndromesuicide-study/
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2016
  2. John Mac

    John Mac Senior Member

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    Liverpool UK
    Does the total number of deaths not seem unusually low?

    17 in 7 years is 2.4 deaths per year.

    2.4/2147 is 1.1 deaths per thousand per year

    Typical death rates in Europe are 8 - 12 per thousand per year.

    And as we are talking about an increased risk of suicide that 1.1 looks remarkably low.

    The World Bank's table of death rates:

    http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SP.DYN.CDRT.IN
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2016
  3. Esther12

    Esther12 Senior Member

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    I was feeling that maybe I'd been too casually critical of this paper, having only given it a brief read, so comforting to read Coyne show that my hunches weren't too unreasonable.

    I thought it was weird that this got in the Lancet too. I wondered if maybe it had more exciting spin in it when first submitted, and then post-Tuller the Lancet decided to ensure it got toned down during review?

    The other thing is that sometimes nothing papers like this end up being politically useful for the authors in behind-the-scenes ways that we do not understand.
     
    GreyOwl, Valentijn, beaker and 6 others like this.
  4. Scarecrow

    Scarecrow Revolting Peasant

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    Would those by all age deaths? The patient population in the study is likely to have a younger age profile than the general population.
     
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  5. John Mac

    John Mac Senior Member

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    Yes I think the tables cover all ages including old people. The ME patients would be a subset of that, I imagine not including many older people which might explain the difference.
     
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  6. anciendaze

    anciendaze Senior Member

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    While I was explaining the problems with this paper, and the resulting newspaper headlines, to a friend, I realized two things: 1) the number of actual suicides on which those headlines depend is comparable to anecdotal evidence also seen in newspapers, including suicides apparently triggered by the threat of involuntary commitment to locked wards; 2) the frightening suicide rate reported in those patients is comparable to suicide rates among psychiatrists and brain surgeons, though solid data on this is harder to acquire.

    If this quality of evidence is grounds for committing CFS patients to psychiatric care what does it say about committing psychiatrists?

    Added: "I think the numbers speak for themselves; these are obviously seriously disturbed people."
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2016

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