Exploring data: Graphs and numerical summaries
Exploring data: Graphs and numerical summaries

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Exploring data: Graphs and numerical summaries

1.1.6 Cirrhosis and alcoholism

The data in Table 5, which are given for several countries in Europe and elsewhere, are the average annual alcohol consumption in litres per person and the death rate per 100 000 of the population from cirrhosis and alcoholism. It would seem obvious that the two are related to each other, but what is the relationship and is it a strong one? How can the strength of such a relationship be measured? Is it possible to assess the effect on alcohol-related deaths of taxes on alcohol, or of laws that aim to reduce the national alcohol consumption?

Table 5 Average alcohol consumption and death rate

Country Annual alcohol consumption (1/person) Cirrhosis & alcoholism (death rate/100 000)
France 24.7 46.1
Italy 15.2 23.6
W. Germany 12.3 23.7
Austria 10.9 7.0
Belgium 10.8 12.3
USA 9.9 14.2
Canada 8.3 7.4
England & Wales 7.2 3.0
Sweden 6.6 7.2
Japan 5.8 10.6
Netherlands 5.7 3.7
Ireland 5.6 3.4
Norway 4.2 4.3
Finland 3.9 3.6
Israel 3.1 5.4

(Osborn, J.F. (1979) Statistical exercises in medical research. Blackwell Scientific Publications, Oxford, p.44.)

France has a noticeably higher average annual individual alcohol consumption than the others; the figure is more than double that of third-placed West Germany. The French alcohol-related death rate is just under double that of the next highest.

Activity 2: Alcohol consumption and death rate

Bearing in mind the comments above, summarise the information you might wish to glean from these data. Have you any suggestions for displaying the data?

Discussion

You would wish to know whether the death rate is directly related to alcohol consumption and, if so, how. You would also need to know if the figures for France should be regarded as atypical. If so, how should they be handled when the data are analysed?

One suggestion for displaying the data would be to plot a graph of death rate against alcohol consumption.

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