ASA Sections on:

Statistical Computing
Statistical Graphics


JSM 2010

Use of Graphics in Clinical Trials

As statisticians we are given the awesome responsibility of presenting the findings of clinical trials. The results of a clinical trial may be summarized in text, in a table, or in a graph. Over the years, graphs have grown in popularity, first as supplements to tables and then as replacements to tables. What’s the appeal? A visually stimulating graphic can capture attention in a way that a table cannot.

Today, graphics extend well beyond pie and bar charts. Simple scatter plots can be annotated with detailed descriptions. Line plots can be stacked in a panel or overlaid. Creating a graph is easy but creating an excellent graph requires care and precision. A graph must present the information, illustrate the key points and guard against the potential reader drawing erroneous conclusions.

This was a very lively session! The audience was engaged, asking interesting questions and staying in their seats through the end of the session. Some hopeful attendees couldn’t even get into the room; it was standing room only! The speakers were thorough and specific, covering statistical graphics principles, case studies and examples of the use graphics for both study reporting and interactive clinical data review. The speakers represented all of the angles – academic, industry (pharmaceutical sponsor), software and regulatory. All speakers are very experienced thoughtleaders in the field; their presentations, interactions and discussion with the audience made for a very entertaining and highly informative session.

The session was very well attended – standing room only + people watching from the hallway. Look for an article summarizing the session in a forthcoming issue of the Computational and Graphical Statistics Section Newsletter!

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