A case study of a graphical misrepresentation: drawing the wrong conclusions about the measles, mumps and rubella virus vaccine

Anthony R Cox, Harold Kirkham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Graphs have been used in attempts to show a relationship between the measles, mumps and rubella virus (MMR) vaccine and autism. We examine the topic of graphical representation of data in general, and one of these graphs in particular: the one that appeared in a 1999 letter to The Lancet. That graph combined data from England and from California, USA. The author alleged that this graph illustrated a rise in autism rates linked to the use of the MMR vaccine. By examining the presentation closely, we are able to show how this graph misrepresented the data used. We give advice for both authors and publishers in the use of such graphical treatments of data.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)831-6
Number of pages6
JournalDrug Safety
Volume30
Issue number10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2007
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Autistic Disorder/epidemiology
  • Computer Graphics
  • England/epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Measles-Mumps-Rubella Vaccine/adverse effects
  • Research Design
  • United States/epidemiology

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