Poem: Type Two

A poem about type II errors in diagnostic testing using a diabetes test context.  The poem was written by Lawrence Lesser from The University of Texas at El Paso and received an honorable mention in the non-song category of the 2023 A-mu-sing Competition.  The author also provided the following outline for a lesson plan:

Some sample questions (one per stanza) students can explore or discuss
as a practical application of statistics to a prevalent disease
that likely affects (or will) a friend or relative of almost everyone.

First stanza: Look up history of diabetes prevalence to explore questions such as: Is “1 in 10” roughly accurate for the United States and how does that compare to other countries? Was the 2003 lowering of the threshold for a prediabetes diagnosis based on updated medical understanding of the disease or more of a policy decision to give an “earlier warning”?

Second stanza: How does a hypothesis testing framework apply to an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT)? It’s warned that a false positive is possible if the patient did not eat at least 150g of carbohydrates for each of the 3 days before the test. (This is likely what happened to the poet, whose diagnosis was overturned just 2 months later by an endocrinologist.)

Third stanza: Given the usual trend that the null hypothesis usually means no effect, no difference, nothing special, explain whether it seems consistent that a normality test such as Anderson-Darling would let normality be the null. When might it make sense for a doctor to view having a particular disease as the null hypothesis (and what would be the Type I and Type II errors?)?

Fourth stanza: Explain how having only a few individual values each day from a blood glucose meter (BGM) risks missing dangerously high variability of glucose (students can Google how high variability can be a risk factor for hypoglycemia and diabetes complications). Discuss how output from a Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM) that records values every 5 minutes can be used to check, for example, that the coefficient of variation is sufficiently low (e.g., < 36%) and that “time in range” (e.g., 70-180 or 70-140 mg/dL) is sufficiently high. Example output is on page S86 of https://diabetesjournals.org/care/issue/45/Supplement_1.

Fifth stanza: Have students look up current FDA guidelines on how accurate over-the-counter BGM readings need to be (e.g., https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7753858/) and have them connect this to margin of error, confidence intervals, etc.

Sixth stanza: Find online the diabetes “plate method” of taking a circular plate (9” in diameter) for a meal where half of the plate would have non-starchy vegetables, a quarter having lean protein, and a quarter with carbohydrate foods such as whole grains. How do this breakdown and total quantity compare to a pie chart of a typical meal that you (or typical college undergraduates) eat?

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Author Name: 
Lawrence Lesser
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