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Online Course

Understanding Medical Research: Your Facebook Friend is Wrong

Yale University via Coursera


How can you tell if the bold headlines seen on social media are truly touting the next big thing or if the article isn't worth the paper it's printed on?

Understanding Medical Studies, will provide you with the tools and skills you need to critically interpret medical studies, and determine for yourself the difference between good and bad science.

The course covers study-design, research methods, and statistical interpretation. It also delves into the dark side of medical research by covering fraud, biases, and common misinterpretations of data. Each lesson will highlight case-studies from real-world journal articles.

By the end of this course, you'll have the tools you need to determine the trustworthiness of the scientific information you're reading and, of course, whether or not your Facebook friend is wrong.

This course was made possible in part by the George M. O'Brien Kidney Center at Yale.


-Find out what you'll be learning and what powers you'll have by the end of the course!

The Basics
-Gain some foundational knowledge!

Medical Statistics Made Ridiculously Simple
-It's (sort of) that easy!

Types of Medical Studies
-A test for every situation!

How Wrong Conclusions Are Reached
- Bad plan? Bad data? Bad actors?

-Subtle and hard to correct, Bias is the silent killer of good research.

Fixing the Problems with Medical Studies
-All hope is not lost!

Taught by

F. Perry Wilson

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4.9 rating, based on 357 reviews

Start your review of Understanding Medical Research: Your Facebook Friend is Wrong

  • Anonymous
    The second part of the course title needs clarifying: it's not just your Facebook friend that is wrong, it's anyone on any social media, a specific platform like FB, twitter et al., but also the comment sections of websites and of forums. Unfortunately...
  • Mohammad Habibur Rahman Khan
    The course titled ‘Understanding Medical Research: Your Facebook Friend is Wrong’ joins a vibrant and thoughtful discussion in the field of medical research. The challenging nature of medical research and its evaluation are dynamic. Evaluation of medical...
  • Anonymous
    This is a great course. I was a NIMH Fellow in Quantative Methods in graduate school and worked in the pharmaceutical industry, so I had quite a bit of background in statistics. This was both a good review and a source of much new information. Professor...
  • Anonymous
    I am recently retired physician and took this class to better understand medical statistics, so as to help friends and family interpret medical reports in news and social media. Despite my previous training in interpreting medical literature, I learned a tremendous amount! This course is spot-on in its accuracy and the presentation is wonderfully organized. Despite what is typically a dry topic, this course is actually quite entertaining. I recommend this for pretty much everyone! We all are subjected to news and social media interpretation of medical studies and it is essential that we all have a greater understanding of what these studies mean and what they do not mean. This course is exceptional!
  • Anonymous
    What appeared to be cumbersome pieces of literature has turned out to open a whole new understable world. A world with great findings to pursue and come across after my encounter with this course. Dr. Perry has indisputably enabled me in immense ways to appreciate medical studies, not as the eyes sees them, but critically with the skills I gained. I am therefore more than glad to recommend this for anyone who wishes to do same.

    Someone once told me that to be able to read is art in itself. Now, I believe that to be able to read medical studies and make sense of what they are putting across is a gift gained from this course.
  • Profile image for FABIANNE
    Dr. Perry is a great orator and explains the concept of Medical Research in a language that is understanding to any person that is a novice in this field of study. I personally enjoyed the course and would definitely take it again. A famous quote that captures the essence of Dr. Perry's method of teaching is best described by Anatole France " the whole art of teaching is awakening the natural curiosity of young minds for the purpose of satisfying it afterwards (...)." Job well done.
  • Anonymous
    This course is extremely interesting and I have learned a lot from it. The most important thing I have learned from the course and Dr Perry is "just think about it" ^_^

    Professor Perry made it too easy to study the course material. I hope you have fun with this

    great course like me or more.
  • Steven White
    I wish I had been offered this course when I was in medical school! it should be a required course for medical licensure. Amazingly, the course is also readily understandable by the layperson.
  • Profile image for Magdalena Mróz
    Magdalena Mróz
    Great course for everyone. Shows the very basics of medical research. I really enjoyed it. It takes much less than 7 weeks.
  • Anonymous
    This course really made understanding medical research ridiculously simple. Also the lecturer's way of teaching is unambiguous. In essence, this course is helpful and knowledgeable.
  • Anonymous
    Very useful course. Fantastic explanation with interesting example. It's give a good knowledge about medical research.
  • Anonymous
    This course has implications for all types of research and research papers. I learned a great deal about the topic from this course. I am much more confident about evaluating news stories about medical research reports and all scientific reports in general. The...
  • Anonymous
    I work for a major pharmaceutical company leading an initiative to explain clinical study results to study participants in a plain, easy to understand manner. I took this course because “if you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough....
  • Anonymous
    I like the course! It was deepen me into the basics of medical research and studies in a funny and hilarious way! I absolutely love Dr. Wilson's style of teaching (light, but informative). Also very good idea to interview real students, it made me to...
  • Anonymous
    I am a physician and have an interest in how medical information is presented to both patients and the public. I have been disappointed in the medias approach of presenting information. So I took this course and it was outstanding! I have shared with...
  • Anonymous
    Very good course. Perry Wilson really manages to teach the essence of clinical research. He provides course participants with the necessary tools to understand and interpret clinical studies, i.e. where to look and how and to find strengths and weaknesses....
  • Anonymous
    This online course has information in it to explain how to read a medical study, how to weigh it's importance, and what it actually covers. This method is the perfect antidote to those rather incendiary on line arguments, from facebook to reddit and everywhere; if it comes down to a snarky "dO yOuR rEsEaRcH" when you drop of the doi from a reputable and readable medical study it at least you know your information is of a high standard.

    Information that can be verified is your best tool against misinformation. Doing this course is a way of casually perusing the information that you need to make good choices, stay informed and ask the right sort of questions.
  • Anonymous
    This class could not be more timely or more important. We are bombarded by medical research daily. Many are "pre-print"/"not peer reviewed". I had a hunch but did not completely understand the significance of these terms. Conflicting research findings made it difficult to make decisions that my life. This class helped me sort out and evaluate research practices and results more precisely. I used these skills yesterday to evaluate an FDA Briefing Document on the Pfizer Vaccine. For me, the class required focus and concentration as I do not naturally understand this realm. Watching some of the classes twice was very helpful.
  • Anonymous
    I highly recommend this class to anyone. I can now make sense out of journal articles about Covid. And I frequently run across language that was explained in the course. I took detailed notes and now refer to those when I’m trying to figure out current news about the virus.

    The videos are very well done and easy to follow. I have gone back a watched several of the videos again and that is also easy to do. The case studies that were used in the quizzes were interesting and a bit challenging - but not overwhelming hard. It is important to read those case studies to get comfortable with the different parts of medical journal articles.
  • Layle Kenyon
    This was a remarkable course. I am an administrator within an Academic Healthcare setting and, although I have a lot of background with leadership, operations improvement, including six sigma, I was very unschooled with regard to the amazing research side of our organization. Perry was illustrative, entertaining, and so very informative. He was able to simplify many important concepts such as P value, risk ratio, Confidence Intervals, PICO scores, all that, for me was previously intimidating. After all these years, I have much more confidence and much more enriching conversations with our Providers as a result of this course. Thank you! Layle

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