Lisa Sullivan, PhD

Professor of Biostatistics

Boston University School of Public Health

Introductory word scramble



This module will continue the discussion of hypothesis testing, where a specific statement or hypothesis is generated about a population parameter, and sample statistics are used to assess the likelihood that the hypothesis is true. The hypothesis is based on available information and the investigator's belief about the population parameters. The specific tests considered here are called chi-square tests and are appropriate when the outcome is discrete (dichotomous, ordinal or categorical). For example, in some clinical trials the outcome is a classification such as hypertensive, pre-hypertensive or normotensive. We could use the same classification in an observational study such as the Framingham Heart Study to compare men and women in terms of their blood pressure status - again using the classification of hypertensive, pre-hypertensive or normotensive status.  

The technique to analyze a discrete outcome uses what is called a chi-square test. Specifically, the test statistic follows a chi-square probability distribution. We will consider chi-square tests here with one, two and more than two independent comparison groups.

Learning Objectives

After completing this module, the student will be able to:

  1. Perform chi-square tests by hand
  2. Appropriately interpret results of chi-square tests
  3. Identify the appropriate hypothesis testing procedure based on type of outcome variable and number of samples