Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics


: Dicing with Death: Chance, Risk and Health, by Stephen Senn. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2003. 251 pp. $28.00.

John D.  Nagy  a1
a1 John D. Nagy, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of Biology at Scottsdale Community College, Scottsdale, Arizona

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nagy jd   [PubMed][Google Scholar] 

Whether one loves, hates, or is indifferent to statistics, it is impossible to avoid the fact that scientific medicine is founded on statistical thinking. Statistics does much more than help us determine if a drug or treatment procedure is efficacious. It provides a rational framework for studying a stunningly broad array of medical questions. Will an annual mammogram measurably decrease a 40-year-old woman's risk of early death? What is the best public health response to minimize morbidity and mortality from an intentional release of Bacillus anthracis? How can we rationally allocate limited medical and financial resources to deal with public health risks into the future? All of these questions, and most associated with public health and even curative health care, ultimately require quantitative evaluation. Dig down to the epistemological heart of medicine, and there you will find statistics and mathematics smiling, some might say glaring, back at you.