Do Baseline P-Values Follow a Uniform Distribution in Randomised Trials?

PLOS:  10/1/13

Background

The theory has been put forward that if a null hypothesis is true, P-values should follow a Uniform distribution. This can be used to check the validity of randomisation.

Method

The theory was tested by simulation for two sample t tests for data from a Normal distribution and a Lognormal distribution, for two sample t tests which are not independent, and for chi-squared and Fisher’s exact test using small and using large samples.

Results

For the two sample t test with Normal data the distribution of P-values was very close to the Uniform. When using Lognormal data this was no longer true, and the distribution had a pronounced mode. For correlated tests, even using data from a Normal distribution, the distribution of P-values varied from simulation run to simulation run, but did not look close to Uniform in any realisation. For binary data in a small sample, only a few probabilities were possible and distribution was very uneven. With a sample of two groups of 1,000 observations, there was great unevenness in the histogram and a poor fit to the Uniform. Read More