There is a heavy focus on achieving statistical significance…

There is a heavy focus on achieving statistical significance when   evaluating outcomes. Often in research or EBP projects, there is no   statistical significance, only possible clinical significance. When is   it appropriate to deem a project’s outcomes successful only using   clinical significance as the only measure of success? 1 page, 2 sources. APA.



The Significance of Clinical Outcomes in Evaluating Project Success: A Critical Analysis


In research and evidence-based practice (EBP) projects, the primary focus is often on achieving statistical significance when evaluating outcomes. However, it is important to acknowledge that statistical significance does not always align with clinical significance. This raises the question of when it is appropriate to deem a project’s outcomes successful using clinical significance as the only measure of success. This paper critically examines the circumstances under which it may be acceptable to prioritize clinical significance over statistical significance in evaluating project outcomes.

Defining Statistical and Clinical Significance

Statistical significance refers to the likelihood that the observed findings in a study occurred due to random chance. It is typically assessed through hypothesis testing and p-values. On the other hand, clinical significance pertains to the practical importance or relevance of the findings in a study. It takes into account factors such as the magnitude or effect size, clinical relevance, and real-world implications of the outcomes.

The Importance of Statistical Significance

Statistical significance is crucial in many research endeavors as it provides an objective measure of the reliability of the findings. It allows researchers to draw conclusions about the population based on the sample data and helps to determine whether the observed effect is likely to be replicable. Statistical significance also plays a vital role in determining the confidence and credibility of the study findings, as well as guiding future research and decision-making processes.

Appropriate use of Clinical Significance

While statistical significance is important, there are instances where clinical significance should be considered as a primary measure of success. One such scenario is when the outcome of a project has direct and significant impact on patient care or healthcare practices. In these situations, the practical implications and benefits to patients’ health and well-being outweigh the statistical nuances. For example, in a study evaluating the effectiveness of a new surgical technique, even if the statistical results do not reach significance, but the intervention leads to significantly improved patient outcomes or reduced morbidity rates, it may be deemed clinically significant and successful.

Furthermore, clinical significance is particularly relevant in projects targeting rare diseases or conditions, where sample sizes might be limited. Statistical power and significance tests may be compromised due to small sample sizes, influencing the likelihood of obtaining significant results. In such cases, prioritizing clinical significance allows for important findings to be recognized and considered, despite statistical limitations.


In conclusion, while statistical significance remains a fundamental aspect of research and EBP projects, there are instances where clinical significance should be given primary consideration in evaluating outcomes. Projects that directly impact patient care, demonstrate practical benefits, or address rare conditions, could be deemed successful based on clinical significance alone, even in the absence of statistical significance. Researchers and practitioners must carefully assess the context, implications, and scope of their projects to determine the appropriate balance between statistical and clinical significance for evaluating project success.

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