The Johns Hopkins press release states:

Data Collection

An examination was conducted of all the original data collection forms, numbering over 1,800 forms, which included review by a translator. The original forms have the appearance of authenticity in variation of handwriting, language and manner of completion. The information contained on the forms was validated against the two numerical databases used in the study analyses. These numerical databases have been available to outside researchers and provided to them upon request since April 2007.

Some minor, ordinary errors in transcription were detected, but they were not of variables that affected the study’s primary mortality analysis or causes of death. The review concluded that the data files used in the study accurately reflect the information collected on the original field surveys.


Study Methodology and Statistical Approach

The review did not evaluate aspects of the sampling methodology or statistical approach of the study. It is expected that the scientific community will continue to debate the best methods for estimating excess mortality in conflict situations in appropriate academic forums.

Questions have been raised about other features of study implementation, such as the use of medical garb worn by interviewers. These practices were found to be consistent with common, acceptable field practices and were implemented to reduce risk to the survey team.

Conduct of Study Protocol

A review of the original data collection forms revealed that researchers in the field used data collection forms that were different from the form included in the original protocol. The forms included space for the names of respondents or householders, which were recorded on many of the records. Use of the form and collection of names violated the study protocol submitted to the IRB and on which the IRB determined the study was exempt from full human subjects review.

The paper in The Lancet incorrectly stated that identifying data were not collected. An erratum will be submitted to The Lancet to correct the text of the 2006 paper on this point.

The review found no evidence that the violations caused harm to any individuals involved in the study and the identifiable information was never out of the possession of the research team. Inclusion of identifiers did not affect the results of the study.

Action Taken

Because of violations of the Bloomberg School’s policies regarding human subjects research, the School has suspended Dr. Burnham’s privileges to serve as a principal investigator on projects involving human subjects research.

Update: The Baltimore Sun has a response from Burnham:

Burnham can appeal the decision to the university provost, but he said he does not expect to do that. In an interview today, he said he was gratified that the Hopkins investigation, as well as independent reviews, have verified his results. “I think that strengthens our conviction on the quality of the data and its relevance,” he said. “The importance of measuring the impact of war on populations, I think, is critical.”

Because of the difficulty of carrying out research in Iraq during the war, Burnham and his team partnered with Iraqi doctors at a university in Iraq. Burnham, working out of Jordan, said he made it clear to the doctors that they could collect the first names of children and adults, to help keep the information straight, but that last names could not be collected.

When the surveys came back to him in Jordan, it appeared that some had last names. Many were in Arabic. Burnham said he asked his Iraqi partners and was told that the names were not complete, which he accepted. But Hopkins, in its investigation, found that the data form used in the surveys was different from what was originally proposed, and included space for names of respondents. Hopkins found that full names were collected.

Comments

  1. #1 LancetStudy
    February 25, 2009

    dsquared wrote: “…Citation please, for this extremely odd assertion that violence in Iraq occurred exclusively on streets..”

    Oh dsqaured … you fool. No ‘exclusively’ word appeared in my post.
    (Anyway, do you have details about events in trees or in the air….?)

  2. #2 Sortition
    February 25, 2009

    > Lee, DNFTT please. It encourages them.

    Marion Delgado is onto something – mocking seems like the only useful response to Kane et al.

  3. #3 Eli Rabett
    February 25, 2009

    Lord is our Spaghetti stupid. Will this do, clown Or maybe this, which clearly happened on a non-main street

  4. #4 dhogaza
    February 25, 2009

    That second photo is a Main Dirt Street. Expect arguments expounding on the MDSB in L2 shortly.

  5. #5 Eli Rabett
    February 25, 2009

    It has been pointed out that the hanged guys were hanged by Sadaam. However Eli wishes to point out that it was still a death in the air in Iraq. There are other examples, including a youtube clip of Sadaam dangling.

  6. #6 Michael
    February 25, 2009

    Were the survey forms filled out in pencil or pen? I can find no information regarding this in the public spehere.

    Why is Burnham hiding this information? If a pencil, was it HB?

    How can other researchers have confidence in these results if we don’t even know something so basic about the study methodology. Without this information, it’s impossible to correct for HB bias.

    If we don’t know how Burnham accounted for potential HB bias, the Lancet Study is a fraud.

    This much is clear.

  7. #7 ffrancis
    February 26, 2009

    Could someone perhaps lure Harold R Pierce over here? This thread could use a little sanity.

  8. #8 dhogaza
    February 26, 2009

    Could someone perhaps lure Harold R Pierce over here? This thread could use a little sanity.

    Post of the week!

  9. #9 Neil Munro
    February 26, 2009

    Guys, do the decent thing and read my sidebar that helped launch this Hopkins investigation. The sidebar can be found at
    http://news.nationaljournal.com/articles/databomb/sidebar2.htm.

    It includes this line from Burnham;; “…The survey “was carried out as we designed it,” Burnham told National Journal…”
    Does anyone want to try to make that statement comport with Deltoid’s preferences and Hopkins’ conclusions?

    Yours, waiting for the next shoe to drop.

    Neil Munro

  10. #10 Tim Lambert
    February 26, 2009

    Given his conduct, [Neil Munro is hardly in a position to talk about doing the decent thing](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2008/01/flypaper_for_innumerates_natio.php).

  11. #11 dhogaza
    February 26, 2009

    You mean this one?

    Inclusion of identifiers did not affect the results of the study.

    How did the collection of some first names (as apparently Burnham believed was the case at the time) affect the *design* of the survey, which I at least would interpret to mean the way in which households were chosen, the structure of the survey questions, the protocol, and analysis of results?

  12. #12 Sortition
    February 26, 2009

    > Yours, waiting for the next shoe to drop.
    >
    > Neil Munro

    Always a sensible policy when slithering around in the mud.

  13. #13 David Kane
    February 26, 2009

    Tim in #110: What a great thread you link to! Shall we revisit all the items that you got wrong and Munro got right? I recommend starting a new thread devoted to that topic. A fun time is guaranteed for all.

  14. #14 sod
    February 26, 2009

    Guys, do the decent thing and read my sidebar that helped launch this Hopkins investigation. The sidebar can be found at http://news.nationaljournal.com/articles/databomb/sidebar2.htm.

    Neil, i just took another look at your article. it is still misleading, full of baseless accusations and false claims.

    starting with the very first paragraph:

    Three weeks before the 2006 midterm elections gave Democrats control of Congress, a shocking study reported on the number of Iraqis who had died in the ongoing war.

    the “number of iraqis who have died in this war” has been confirmed by the IFHS study.

    but i did only scan your article. and i find it interseting, that you are another one, who feels confirmed by the Lancet review. (and another one, who started the investigation..)could you please point out the part about NAMES in your writing/article? i must have missed it!>

    and i would like to hear your opinion on this part (you missed it so far?) of the review:

    The original forms have the appearance of authenticity in variation of handwriting, language and manner of completion. The information contained on the forms was validated against the two numerical databases used in the study analyses.

  15. #15 Bruce Sharp
    February 26, 2009

    Sod, setting aside the question of whether or not it says anything about the results of the survey, Munro’s sidebar does mention the names, about halfway down:

    “Burnham and his colleagues have frequently said that their Iraqi surveyors did not record names. But the Iraqi researcher who directed the survey may have used an answer form that had spaces to record names, with or without Hopkins’s approval. In May 2007, the chief of the Iraqi survey team, Riyadh Lafta, gave a copy of what he said was his form to Ali Mohamed, a United Nations official who tracks deaths in Iraq, Mohamed told National Journal. On the form that Mohamed provided to NJ, the top line has spaces to record the location of the survey and the ‘name of householder.’ The form also has spaces to record the names of infants and deceased people.”

    Regards,
    Bruce

  16. #16 sod
    February 26, 2009

    thanks Bruce,

    his link doesn t work for me, and the article didn t contain that information.

  17. #17 sod
    February 26, 2009

    [here](http://news.nationaljournal.com/articles/databomb/sidebar2.htm#) is the article. Munro did indeed raise the question about names. my apologies to him.

    i still don t see, why somebody who “even faked responses” would violate ethic rules and add names, but i guess that is just me..

  18. #18 sg
    February 28, 2009

    Hey David Kane, you are aware aren’t you that full names do not constitute a unique identifier? Full name + date of birth is a unique identifier, as is Full Name + address.

    There is nothing in this review of the study to suggest any level of fraud. Burnham certainly appears to have collected data in a way which is inconsistent with the IRB application, but this is not itself a sign of fraud or maliciousness, and I suspect that if one were to audit all human research studies one would find a lot more small inconsistencies like this.

    I am, however, quite surprised that the JHU IRB exempts a study from full Human Research Ethics approval even if no identifying data is collected. It’s still research on real people, with the attendant risk that it is frivolous, hurtful or exploitative. Do other people here think that is a strangely lax IRB?