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# Use of Statistical Information

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Many organizations use statistic to view their overall performance and how they can improve in specific areas of their job. Florence Nightingale, the mother of nursing , utilized statistics by demonstrating and presenting data. Statistics was used by gathering and evaluating data to determine the effectiveness of nursing intervention. For example, central tendency revealed washing hands in between patients decreased the risk for spreading microorganisms for both the health care providers and patients. Statistics determine the results of intervention or treatments and is presented to different types of health conclusions. Statistical applications assess the health outcomes such as determining if an intervention has a good effect of patientâ€™s general health and measures how specific treatments are applicable to certain diseases.

Health care providers practice statistics to measure the outcome of continuous variables, such as temperature, blood pressure or cholesterol, to observe if the values changed after exposure to a treatment. (Zellner, 2008, p. 55). When continuous variables are used, the health care providers are able to compare the â€śaverageâ€ť values of the variable, such as the mean or median, after the treatment (p. 55). For example, when treating a patient with arthritis the nurse will measure any changes in levels of pain and mobility on a scale. Demographic statistics includes sex, race, income and disabilities to predict the types of services a group of people will need and the level of care affordable to them (p. 56).

Health administrators use statistics on service utilization to apply for grant funding and to justify budgeting to their governing boards (p 56). Statistics is the science of data collection, analysis and presentation. Evidence based nursing uses statistical application to determine if a specific method is valuable and attempts to prevent future complications (p.Â 56). Today, without evidence based nursing, many of the practices applied would not be implemented. Descriptive statistics

â€śDescriptive statistics utilizes numerical and graphical methods to look for patterns in a data set, to summarize the information revealed in a data set, and to present that information in a convenient formâ€ť (McClave& Sincich, 2012, Statistics, p. 3). Descriptive statistics are implemented in many areas of health care and are the most common type of statistics to be used. Descriptive statistics are used to manage, evaluate and monitor health services and the people that work within the health care system (p. 3) Descriptive statistics summarize the utility, efficacy and costs of medical supplies and services.(Zellner, 2008, p. 57). Nurses need to have early comprehension about descriptive statistics to summarize and collect data accurately. Inferential statistics

â€śInferential statistics utilizes sample data to make estimates, decisions, predictions or other generalizations about a larger set of dataâ€ť in a value (McClave, p. 3). The use of inferential statistics is a valuable method of research on populations and events in health care. Instead of observing and surveying every member of a population, researchers attempt to use a representative sample and find an overall conclusion. (Zellner, p. 57). For examples, researchers cannot examine every medical record from patients who smoke to establish an association between smoking and lung cancer, but many random samples comparing smokers with non-smokers have firmly established a connection. Predictions and estimations discovered from inferential statistics allow health care providers to educate each patient with valuable information (p. 57). Four levels of measurement

The four levels of measurement are the nominal level, ordinal level, interval level and ratio. The nominal scale places people, events, and perceptions into the same category based on common behaviors. (McClave, p. 300). The nominal scale is the lowest of the four because it does not obtain crucial information. The nominal level includes examples such as sex (male, female), marital status, blood type and health state (p. 300). A nurse can only use the nominal scale when asking patients direct questions. For example,Â asking a patient if he is a smoker will place him in a yes or no category. The nominal level of measurement is the most primitive technique of classifying information. However, the ordinal scale has one main benefit over the nominal scale.

The ordinal scale contains the information obtained in the nominal scale and ranks it from lowest to highest instead of categorizing (McClave, p. 303). For example, the nurse can ask a smoker how many packs a day he smokes and rank the information obtained. If he smokes one pack a day then he is a light smoker, but if he smokes ten packs a day then he is a heavy smoker. Ordinal scale can similarly be used to measure a patientâ€™s pain level. A nurse may ask a patient to descriptive their pain between one and ten. The nurse will explain one is the having no pain and ten is having excruciating pain. The ordinal level scores the pain from lowest to highest. Within the ordinal level of measurement, an experience is assigned to a category based on the amount of a particular characteristic (p.304). Although the ordinal scale ranks the subjects, important data remains unknown. The interval level of measurement is characterized by a scale that is quantitative. A patientâ€™s temperature is measured in terms of numbers of degrees (McClave, p. 305). An interval scale does not have an absolute zero and the increments on the scale can be measured (305).

Temperature is a good example of an interval scale because zero can change depending on the scale used. Many statistical techniques can be used to analyze interval variable. â€śThe ratio level of measurement is characterized by variables that are assessed incrementally with equal distances between the increments and a scale that has an absolute zeroâ€ť(McClave, p. 310). Familiar ratio scales include time, length, and weight. My nursing school uses the ratio measurement by giving us, the nursing students, and a set time to finish a given task, such as starting an intravenous line. Some students started the IV line before or after five minutes. After reviewing this ratio, the instructors gave us eight minutes to start an intravenous line. The nursing field applies the four levels of measurement in numerous methods.

One of healthcareâ€™s top challenges is capturing, updating, and managing patientâ€™s information (Zellner, p. 57). Clinical and management information systems have proven to be an enormous advantage in improving decision making in an in-patient hospital setting and creating a single resource for integrated patient information (p.58). The informationÂ gathered can contribute the nurse practitioner in patient care by analyzing trending, and graphing patient outcomes. Vital statistical information is gathered and retrieved for numerous reasons such as maintenance of licensure, malpractice retention and medication errors (p. 57). Statistical application is still being evaluated to improve the healthcare system.

Reference
Zellner, K., Boerst, C., & Tabb, W. (2008). Statistics used in current nursing research. Journal Of Nursing Education,46(2), 55-59. McClave, J., Sincich, T. (2012) Statistics. (12th ed.) St. Louis, Missouri.

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