THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: “Documenting the medical database of 5200 residents of the town was a daunting task in 1949. Keyboard was still a musical instrument and mouse a household nuisance. Bill Gates’s first birthday was six years away and Microsoft would take another 25 years to boot. But dedicated as he was, Thomas Royle Dawber took up the challenge in the small town of Frmingham and the rest is Statistics,” goes the first para of the book on Medical Statistricks and Clinical Trials written by Dr Tiny Nair, Head of the Department of Cardiology, PRS Hospital.
His penchant for writing and the gap existing for a simple book on medical statistics was the reason that made Tiny to work on the book.
“This is a fun book. A doctor can read it like a novel. This book does not teach you how to calculate chi-square or P-value simply because as clinician one doesn’t need that. Finally every chapter ends with a chapter summary christened ‘chapsum’. The book is more a handbook for the clinicians,” he says.
The book is divided into 20 short chapters and the book has a total of 139 pages. Is it his liking for mathematics that led him to write a book on statistics? Under the section, ‘Why I am writing this book?’, Tiny explains it to readers - “Not my knack in natural science in the first grade and not really the will to serve the ailing humanity. The simple reason why I ended up becoming a doctor was that I was thrown out of math class in school and my teacher thought I was not exactly the material that makes Pythagoras. I took her advice and kept a safe distance from mathematics and statistics till recently,” he says on lighter note.
“A forced invitation to take a postgraduate lecture on the topic compelled me to brush up my addition and subtraction. To my surprise, I found that medical statistics for end users like you and me is pretty simple and more importantly fun. At least we call a hoax, a hoax and differentiate between chalk and chaff - statistically speaking!" Tiny says about what led him to brush up his skills on statistics.
So, does he have any favourite books when it comes to medical statistics?
“Most, if not all, of my knowledge in statistics comes from three of my books on Statistics “Essential Evidence-based Medicine’, ‘Medical Statistics Made Easy and Statistics’, ‘A Graphic Guide’. In fact, I was so impressed by all three that I have practically slept with these books more often than with my wife,” says Tiny. Tiny has also published review articles and papers in Indian Heart Journal, authored chapters in books, been course director and faculty member for multiple CMEs in India and abroad.
He is also a faculty for distant education programme of the American College Of Cardiology. “I am currently working on another book on Hypertension which will be published in another seven to eight months,” he said.