medical BLOG | DATE- 2022-12-11

Top 5 Statistical Tools Used in Medical Research

Top 5 Statistical Tools Used in Medical Research

Statistical analysis gives meaning to the meaningless numbers of ours, thereby breathing life into a lifeless data. Data consisting of an admixture of numeric, string and alpha numerical points can appear intimidating, but the analysis of data does not have to be always complex. The process can be broken down into 3 clear steps:

For this one must use Statistical methods which are involved in carrying planning, designing, collecting data, analyzing, drawing meaningful interpretation and reporting of the research findings. The results and inferences are precise only if proper statistical tests are used. 

There are several statistical tools used in medical research. These tools get the job done in similar ways, but the differences lie in ease of use and presentation as differences in licensing (proprietary or not), interface (point and click or command line) and cost (free or paid). In this article we will see the top 5 medical research tools.


SPSS is a widely used program for statistical analysis in social science. It is also used by market researchers, health researchers, survey companies, government, education researchers, marketing organizations, data miners and others.

IBM SPSS is quite comprehensive and serves as the go-to tool for almost all disciplines and professional. The software has depth in capability with an easy-to-use graphical user interface function. However, the software works best for researchers who have a basic knowledge of statistics, most especially data elements like data measurements, data types of identification, variable assignment and coding and case selection.

IBM SPSS is compatible with Excel files (.xls, .xlsx), Text files (.csv, .txt, .dat), SAS (. sas7bdat) and Stata (.dta). it comes with a striking feature in ‘Chart Builder’ that allows users to drag and drop graphics and make modifications. Aside from the ease of use and ability to automatically handle missing data points, users get to perform structural equation models through SPSS Amos.

However, some robust and complex statistical methods cannot be estimated for instance, Least Absolute Deviation Regression, and Quantile Regression.

2. Stata

Stata, occasionally stylized as STATA, is a general-purpose statistical software package for data manipulation, visualization, statistics, and automated reporting. It is used by researchers in many fields, including biomedicine, epidemiology, sociology and science. Stata can be termed as the policy statistical software common to institutions, including international organizations like the United Nations, governments and academicians for public health, Economics, Social Work and Medicine. It remains the most powerful software available in the analytics space.

It is a complete toolbox that provides a data management capability, data analysis and a colorful graphical interface. Stata features includes Graphical user interface (GUI) or simply, point-and-click interface accompanied with an option for command line interface (CLI) which is quick, authentic and easy to use. STATA is compatible with Excel files (.xls, .xlsx), Text files (.txt, .csv, .dat), SAS (.XPT) and Other (.XML).

There are a lot of statistical features, stretching from descriptive analysis, cross tabulation analysis to more advanced techniques like structural equation modeling, probability models, survival analysis, time series and multilevel models. Stata works well with longitudinal data but can only hold one dataset in memory which has to rewritten to add or access a new dataset. The Stata graphics are not that flexible when compared to other software and the different packages limits the usable datasets size (Stata/IC, Stata/SE, and Stata/MP).

Why should we choose STATA?


R is an open-source statistical software tool that is well equipped to handle, visualization, analysis and aspects of machine learning ‘heavy computing’ and it’s strictly a programming ‘command line interface (CLI) software tool though relatively new in the user space. R now commands a strong fan base, boasting over 6000 packages, contributed by data scientists, bioinformatics and medical researchers.

R is compatible with Excel files (.xls, .xlsx), Text files (.txt, .dat, .csv), SPSS (.sav), Stata (.dta), SAS (. sas7bdat), Other (. xml, json). R interacts with other software well with a rather steep learning curve, given the different data types.

Metafor is one of the many R packages available to conduct meta-analyses and contains the most comprehensive analysis tools. Their website contains some very useful analysis and plot examples with the corresponding code. However, since the package requires the use of the R environment, it may be difficult for those who have never used R before to become accustomed to the package so quickly. 

4. Epi Info

Epi Info is statistical software for epidemiology developed by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia (US). Epi Info has been in existence for over 20 years and is currently available for Microsoft Windows, Android and iOS, along with a web and cloud version. The program allows for electronic survey creation, data entry, and analysis.

Epi Info is very briefly described in a review of software that it is among the most widely used tools during outbreaks. Another study also reported that Epi Info was among the tools used to collect data during pandemics. The most important functions of Epi Info are the ability to rapidly develop a questionnaire, customize the data entry process, quickly enter data into that questionnaire, and then analyze the data. For epidemiological uses, such as outbreak investigations, being able to rapidly create an electronic data entry screen and then do immediate analysis on the collected data can save considerable amounts of time


Import and export functions exist that allow for data to be converted between plain-text, CSV, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Access, MySQL, Microsoft SQL Server, and other formats.



5. Mendeley Reference Manager

Mendeley is a reference manager software developed by Elsevier. It is used to manage and share research papers and generate bibliographies for scholarly articles.

The software can track reader counts, a readership statistic which has been asserted to predict citation impact, whereas journal-level metrics are poor predictors of reliability. An automatic metadata extraction from PDF files is also available. The platform can integrate with Microsoft Word, OpenOffice and other platforms. The platform intends to be copyright-compliant by allowing users to share files in private groups.

Benefits of using Mendeley

Disadvantages to Using Mendeley



WRITTEN BY - Bezawit Girma-Med In Ethiopia Team

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WRITTEN BY - Bezawit Girma

Med In Ethiopia Team


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