Teaching a Statistical Program in Emergency Medicine Research Rotations: Command or Click Driven?
Stata is a command driven program. It is a general purpose statistical software package which is used by people of different backgrounds and professional disciplines. Most STATA users, however, are non-physicians. Since it is used by people of all fields, most training programs offered are geared towards programmers and non-physicians. Although STATA has simple commands, these may be difficult for non-programmers to utilize. Generally, physicians are familiar with clicking rather than writing commands. To teach Emergency Medicine (EM) residents, we developed a teaching approach using "pull-down" menus. Emphasis was on teaching how to enter and import data. During the EM research rotation, residents were introduced to the STATA software, in addition to research methods. We also developed a manual explaining the basic operations of STATA. We observed that for EM residents, it was easy to learn and use "pull-down" menus. Providing introduction of Stata prior to data entry improved the accuracy of data recording and facilitated data analysis. It also provided EM residents experience in order to navigate STATA following the completion of the research rotation. Although basic functions of STATA can be learnt via this method, we feel that it is necessary to develop a training program which addresses the needs of physicians.
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