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March 16, 1994

β-Agonist Use and Death from Asthma-Reply

Author Affiliations

American Lung Association of Central New York Syracuse, NY
Syracuse University Syracuse, NY

JAMA. 1994;271(11):822. doi:10.1001/jama.1994.03510350029020

In Reply.  —We would like to clarify some confusions raised in the commentaries on our recent integration of the association between β-agonist use and death from asthma.1 One confusion involves effect strength. When we describe an effect of mean r=.055 as being "extremely weak," we are using empirically established benchmarks2: large (r=.500), moderate (r=.300), and small (r=.100). The weight of the available evidence indicates that one can account for approximately 0.3% ([mean r=.055]2=.003) of the variation in whether an asthmatic patient lived or died by knowing whether they used β-agonists. Drs Alberg and Comstock disagree with our assessment of this effect as "extremely weak." We fail to see how it can be described in any other way.Alberg and Comstock are correct in submitting that correlations can be misleading under some circumstances. However, they confuse the calculation of r as a

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