The article addresses the problem of three types of significance of research results: statistical, practical and clinical significance. These issues are treated as chronological sequences in the evolution of how results of clinical research have been reported. For a long time, statistical significance was the only way of reporting research results. This method was subject to severe criticism showing that estimating the probability of results to be obtained by chance is not satisfactory from a clinically point of view. Statistical significance was followed by practical significance reporting, translated into size effect. Even though this change is a step forward, effect size says nothing about whether the intervention makes a real difference in the everyday life of the clients, or others whom the client interacts with. Thus, in recent years, the concept of clinical significance has been increasingly emphasized and operationalized most frequently by the quality of life, improvement in symptom level (improvement criteria), transition of patients from the dysfunctional to the functional distribution (recovery criteria) or a combination of them. Although this concept has also been subject to criticism, it has survived the debate and satisfies the set of criteria by which clinical research results are judged.
Dysfunctional attitudes, depression and quality of life in a sample of Romanian Hungarian cancer patients
The main objective of this was to investigate the relationship between depression, dysfunctional attitudes (DA), and their effect on quality of life (QoL) in a sample of Romanian Hungarian cancer patients. Our sample consisted of 376 patients hospitalized with different types and grades of cancer, and was assessed with the Beck Depression Inventory, the Dysfunctional Attitudes Scale, and the Functional Quality of Life Scale. We have found significant differences in depression only between age groups; significant differences in quality of life between age groups and different levels of education; significant differences of dysfunctional attitudes have been found between rural and urban patients. As our data have revealed, in the assessed population one of the most disturbing psychological changes that may accompany this life threatening illness consists in the heightened levels of depression. Taking into consideration the specificities of the traditional rural Romanian Hungarian culture, the reasons for these differences in depression and QoL may be induced or catalyzed by other mechanisms as well. The significant, though weak correlation between dysfunctional attitudes and depression supports this presumption. We suggest that cancer patients may need more individual-tailored and culture specific interventions.