Regression to the mean

When measurements of a given parameter (e.g. blood pressure) are repeated, the extreme values will tend to move towards the mean value. Patients who had a high blood pressure will be found to have a lower blood pressure, whereas it will tend to increase in those who had a low blood pressure. This phenomenon has also been found within populations so that tall fathers have shorter sons and short fathers have taller sons. The practical implication of this phenomenon is that treatments must be tried on a whole range of patients. If only those patients lying at the extremes of the range are treated an apparent effect will be detected purely as a result of regression to the mean.

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