Which methods for bedside Bayes?

P. Glasziou*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalShort surveyResearchpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Understanding how and why Bayes theorem translates pre-test into post-test probabilities is the pons asinorum (Euclid's 5th proposition is known as the “bridge of asses” because many folk got stuck crossing it) of evidence-based medicine (EBM). Because different minds are sparked by different methods, we teach the theorem by using several presentations: 2 × 2 tables, trees, geometric figures, and formulas. A good teacher will have several of these in his or her armamentarium. However, having crossed the bridge of understanding, we still must cross the bridge to practice. The basic understanding is essential, but the time pressures of clinical practice require that we abandon the training wheels and move to tools of rapid calculation. No single tool will suit all people and circumstances, so a well-stocked tool box is advisable. In this editorial, I describe 3 methods aimed primarily at everyday practice rather than enhancing understanding: pre-calculated tables or graphs, programmed Bayes calculators, and the Bayes nomogram.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)164-165
Number of pages2
JournalEvidence-Based Medicine
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


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