Friday, February 18, 2011

Misrepresentation of statistics on the incidence of circumcision in Australia

This is part of an article in and is a response to Cooper, Morris, Wodek letter to the Australian Medical journal, where they claim circumcision rates in Australia are rising, when in fact they are falling.  Morris et al claimed circumcision rates had risen to 19%, when infact Australian circumcision rates are still below 13%.  One state in Aust NSW, has a circumcision rate of 19%, and this was used as the Australian rate, clearly false and a misrepresentation of the data. The author is very generous in explaining how 3 eminent Australian scientists could get the medicare data so very wrong and make such false claims?


Section of response letter published below:

Cooper, Wodak and Morris claim: “Despite official discouragement, Medicare statistics show a rise in the rate of infant male circumcision in Australia from 13% in 1998 to 19% in 2009.”
RESPONSE: In fact, the national rate of infant male circumcision, based on Medicare claims statistics [9] and births data published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics [10], has not exceeded 13% at any time during the period for which Medicare statistics are available on-line (July 1993 to the present). Since public hospitals in most states do not provide non-therapeutic circumcisions, the total number of infant circumcisions has probably gone down, but this would not have been reflected in Medicare statistics (except perhaps by a rise in the number of claims on Medicare). It is therefore likely that the decline in the real rate of infant circumcision that began some 40 years ago has continued in recent years. Certainly, the rate fell sharply in Tasmania and Northern Territory several years ago, has recently fallen substantially in Queensland, and is well below 10% in the majority of states and territories. A charitable explanation is not that Cooper et al are statistically illiterate, but that they have confused figures for New South Wales with figures for the nation as a whole. It is apparent that there is a gaggle of circumcision promoters centred around Professor Morris in Sydney, and that they are having an effect on the incidence of circumcision in that state. Elsewhere, however, respect for the principles of evidence-based medicine and medical ethics take precedence over their emotion-driven hatred of normal human anatomy.
10. Australian Bureau of Statistics

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