Monthly Archives: February 2013

Journal club: Performance of Health Workers in the Management of Seriously Sick Children at a Kenyan Tertiary Hospital

This week’s journal club selection is Performance of Health Workers in the Management of Seriously Sick Children at a Kenyan Tertiary Hospital: Before and after a Training Intervention by Irimu et al. That sounds hard to quantify, so I wonder how they did it.

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Filed under global health

Software carpentry at UW

I’m spending yesterday and today helping out with a two day software carpentry workshop at UW.

Software Carpentry helps researchers be more productive by teaching them basic computing skills. We run boot camps at dozens of sites around the world, and also provide open access material online for self-paced instruction. The benefits are more reliable results and higher productivity: a day a week is common, and a ten-fold improvement isn’t rare.

I am impressed by the curriculum and by the attention to evaluation, not an easy task in any educational setting. The 20% productivity increase is an interesting claim. From what I observed yesterday, I would expect huge heterogeneity based on past experience, and I would expect this heterogeneity to be hard to predict.

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Filed under education

Extra Journal Club: Cd exposure and neurodevelopment

I’m sure reading a lot lately. That is good. This week, I’m filling in for the PBF journal club, too, and today we’ll be discussing Ciesielski et al’s paper Cadmium Exposure and Neurodevelopmental Outcomes in U.S. Children, which uses 6 years of NHANES data to weigh the evidence that low levels of cadmium cause learning disabilities in children.

All the data is available on the CDC’s website, so I thought I’d take a look at it. Here is an interesting little plot that popped out: prevalence of parent-reported learning disabilities in 6-15 year olds as a function of income-to-poverty-line ratio.

pir_vs_ld_prev

Would you have expected that?

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Filed under global health, Mysteries

Journal Club: GBD 2010

I wonder how we’ll tear holes in the arguments of this week’s journal club papers, since they are locally produced:

Also have a look at the accompanying visualizations.

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Filed under global health

Contests and links

There are a couple of Kaggle contests that I call your attention to, now that I have been convinced contests are fun, not tacky: Whale Detection Challenge and
Predicting Parkinson’s Disease Progression. The are both the kind of thing that someone might call “Big Data”, but in two different dimensions.

The whales have 23 teams entered at the time of writing, while PD has zero. I bet that is because there is a way to score interim results on whale detection, but the PD contest is judged based on a 5 page report.

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Filed under machine learning

Journal Club: Comparison of a community outreach service with opportunity screening for cervical cancer using Pap smears

This week journal club takes on Comparison of a community outreach service with opportunity screening for cervical cancer using Pap smears by Chang et al.

Given existing nationwide organized Pap smear screening for cervical cancer in Taiwan, this study demonstrates that outreach Pap smear screening services may be a means of enhancing accessibility and thereby increasing attendance. Approximately 90% women attending outreach service had not previously accessed the pre-existing Pap smear examination provided in hospital. The enhancement of accessibility was particularly significant for certain subgroups of women (the elderly, the widowed and less well educated).

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Journal Club: Death certificates for diabetes

This week we will investigate how frequently death certificates capture diabetes prevalence:
McEwen et al, Temporal Trends in Recording of Diabetes on Death Certificates
Cheng et al, Sensitivity and Specificity of Death Certificates for Diabetes: As Good as it Gets?

Results (spoiler alert): McEwen et al – Diabetes was recorded on 41% of death certificates and as the underlying cause of death for 13% of decedents with diabetes. Cheng et al – Among 1641 men and 1568 women, 378 decedents had a history of diabetes; 168 of whom had diabetes listed anywhere on their death certificates.

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Filed under global health