In this second article, statistical ideas are extended to the problem of testing whether there is a true difference between two samples of measurements. First, it will be shown that the difference between the means of two samples comes from a population of such differences which is normally distributed. Second, the 't' distribution, one of the most important in statistics, will be applied to a test of the difference between two means using a simple data set drawn from a clinical experiment in optometry. Third, in making a t-test, a statistical judgement is made as to whether there is a significant difference between the means of two samples. Before the widespread use of statistical software, this judgement was made with reference to a statistical table. Even if such tables are not used, it is useful to understand their logical structure and how to use them. Finally, the analysis of data, which are known to depart significantly from the normal distribution, will be described.
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|Published - 26 Jan 2001