Two-tailed significance tests for 2 × 2 contingency tables: What is the alternative?

Robin J Prescott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Two-tailed significance testing for 2 × 2 contingency tables has remained controversial. Within the medical literature, different tests are used in different papers and that choice may decide whether findings are adjudged to be significant or nonsignificant; a state of affairs that is clearly undesirable. In this paper, it is argued that a part of the controversy is due to a failure to recognise that there are two possible alternative hypotheses to the Null. It is further argued that, while one alternative hypothesis can lead to tests with greater power, the other choice is more applicable in medical research. That leads to the recommendation that, within medical research, 2 × 2 tables should be tested using double the one-tailed exact probability from Fisher's exact test or, as an approximation, the chi-squared test with Yates' correction for continuity.

Original languageEnglish
Early online date1 Jul 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1 Jul 2019


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