Journal Articles

Doyle, Cathal, Julie Reed, Tom Woodcock, and Derek Bell. 2010. Understanding What Matters to Patients – Identifying Key Patients’ Perceptions of Quality. JRSM Short Reports 1 (1): 1-7. 


Objectives To demonstrate a statistical method to enable the identification of key drivers of quality from a patient perspective that can be used by service providers to help drive improvement.

Design Cross-tabulation, Chi-square analysis and Cramer's V calculation using SPSS software of NHS Inpatient Surveys 2006 and 2007.

Setting The NHS Inpatient Survey is a standardized survey designed by the Picker Institute conducted on a sample of patients across all acute care hospital trusts in England.

Participants The surveys (available from the UK Data Archive) provide anonymized patient data for over 77,000 patients in 2006 and 72,000 patients in 2007.

Main outcome measures Cramer's V score testing associations between patient ratings on multiple components of care and ratings on the overall quality of care.

Results Of the 58 questions analysed, some questions correlate more strongly with overall satisfaction of care than others and there is strong agreement of results over the two years. Of the top 20 rated components, communication (both between professionals and between professionals and patients) and trust engendered by that communication is a recurring theme.

Conclusions Hospital trusts are required to develop quality indicators and collate detailed feedback from patients in addition to the annual inpatient survey to measure these. To make best use of resources, additional data collection should focus on those aspects of care of most importance to patients locally. This analysis demonstrates a statistical technique that can help to identify such priority areas by showing those aspects of care most strongly associated with the overall rating of care. The analysis uses national level data to demonstrate how this can be achieved. This shows the importance to patients of being treated with dignity and respect, and good communication between staff and between staff and patients.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Please discuss the statistical method used by the authors to allow them to study key drivers of quality as perceived by patients (specifically the point scale developed for measuring perspectives).
  2. Describe the researchers’ data analysis approach.  Specifically, how do cross-tabulations and the use of statistical tests factor into the analysis?
  3. How can statistical analysis of patient quality and the findings of studies like this be used to help service providers make improvements?


Sokhi-Bulley, Bal. 2011. Governing (Through) Rights: Statistics as Technologies of GovernmentalitySocial & Legal Studies 20 (2): 139-155.

Abstract: An increasing amount of attention is being given to the use of human rights measurement indicators in monitoring ‘progress’ in rights and there is consequently a growing focus on statistics and information. This article concentrates on the use of statistics in rights discourse, with reference to the new human rights institution for the European Union: the Fundamental Rights Agency. The article has two main objectives: first, to show that statistics operate as technologies of governmentality — by explaining that statistics both govern rights and govern through rights. Second, the article discusses the implications that this has for rights discourse — rights become a discourse of governmentality, that is a normalizing and regulating discourse. In doing so, the article stresses the importance of critique and questioning new socio-legal methodologies, which involve the collection and dissemination of information and data (statistics), in rights discourse.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the growing trend in measuring human rights through the use of statistics.
  2. Discuss the concept of statistics as technologies of governmentality.
  3. What role to agencies play in collecting, recording, analyzing, and distributing data to help track progress in human rights?


Strangfield, Jennifer A. 2013. Promoting Active Learning: Student-Led Data Gathering in Undergraduate Statistics. Teaching Sociology 41 (2): 199-206.

Abstract: Scholarship on teaching undergraduates increasingly emphasizes the benefits of providing students with an active role in their education whereby instructors are more aptly described as facilitators of knowledge rather than merely providers of it. Additionally, recommendations from the American Sociological Association aimed specifically at the undergraduate sociology curriculum argue that students must engage as practitioners of sociology at each level of their program development. In short, undergraduates should do sociology—not just read or write sociology. Applying this recommendation to teaching statistics, I suggest organizing a course around a student-led research project in which students generate the topics, questions, and data that are then used to complete a substantive research paper. Students are given the opportunity to be actively engaged in all stages of the research and data-gathering process. Students also present their work in student roundtables, further legitimating their important contributions as researchers.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the importance of learning basic statistical methods in light of calls by disciplines to teach students a practitioner-oriented perspective.  How might statistical analysis help promote this perspective?
  2. What benefits derive from engaging developing quantitative skills as part of the learning process?
  3. What advantages do student-led projects bring to the classroom?