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April 1992

To 't' or Not to 't'

Author Affiliations

Washington, DC

Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1992;118(4):445-446. doi:10.1001/archotol.1992.01880040113020

To the Editor.—An expedited publication by Shimamura et al1 in the October 1990 issue of the Archives suggested that bacterial adherence in the nasopharynx may play an important role in the pathogenesis of otitis media with effusion (OME) in children. The authors compared the in vitro adherence of Haemophilus influenzae and Streptococcus pneumoniae with nasopharyngeal cells cultured from four groups of subjects: children with and without OME, and adults with and without OME. Pairwise application of Student's t test was used to determine the statistical significance of the data; the results of four pairwise comparisons were reported for each of the bacteria.

The t test, a highly prevalent method for comparing means in biomedical research, depends on a number of assumptions for proper validity. As with any parametric test, the data must be normally distributed within groups, or of sufficient sample size (generally 30 or more observations

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