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Ten caveats of interpreting correlation coefficient in anaesthesia and intensive care research

School of Population Health, University of Western Australia and Intensive Care Unit, Royal Perth Hpspital


Correlation coefficient is an inference statistic that is often used to quantify a relationship between two continuous variables in many medical studies. It can range between -1 and +1; a positive correlation coefficient between the two variables implies that the two variables increase simultaneously in the same direction and a negative correlation coefficient implies that the two variables are related in an opposite direction. Although correlation coefficient is very useful in many situations, its interpretation can be difficult and, at times, confusing. This editorial aims to discuss the interpretation of correlation coefficient.

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