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STATISTICS CAN BE TRICKY

August 14, 2014

As many of you know, my company has done a wide variety of market research since 1997. That’s why a recent editorial in the Medford Mail Tribune caught my eye. It was reporting that a Veterans Affairs Department Audit revealed that 50% of schedulers at the VA’s Southern Oregon Rehabili­tation Centers and Clinics (SORCC) had been told by supervisors to falsify admitting data. But here’s the real statistical fact: VA Auditors interviewed only two schedulers out of 20 at SORCC. So that 50% represented one person, out of 20. Not exactly 50% in my book.

s comment made SORCC one of the worst facilities in the federal report and Oregon Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley cited the 50% figure in arguing for passage of a VA reform bill that now has become law. As I bid on various research and review completed studies, I see numerous examples of businesses and organizations that draw conclusions using faulty statistics and studies that simply do need meet minimum scientific standards for primary research.

So, be careful. It is great that more and more people are seeing the value in surveys and opinions research. But a small investment in a trained research professional to help you interpret the findings correctly is critical to using this data in your marketing efforts.

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