Promoting Research Literacy for Improved Patient Outcomes

The t-test: An Influential Inferential Tool in Chaplaincy and Other Healthcare Research

The t-test: An Influential Inferential Tool in Chaplaincy and Other Healthcare Research

The t-test developed by William S. Gosset (also known as Student’s t-test and the two-sample t-test) is commonly used to compare one sample mean on a measure with another sample mean on the same measure. The outcome of the t-test is used to draw inferences about how different the samples are from each other. It is probably one of the most frequently relied upon statistics in inferential research. It is easy to use: a researcher can calculate the statistic with three simple tools: paper, pen, and a calculator. A computer program can quickly calculate the t-test for large samples. The ease of use can result in the misuse of the t-test. This article discusses the development of the original t-test, basic principles of the t-test, two additional types of t-tests (the one-sample t-test and the paired t-test), and recommendations about what to consider when using the t-test to draw inferences in research.