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Hello everybody,

Could anybody please help me understanding the possible meaning of "secular drift" in the following sentences?

1) Central abstraction in large (>30) batches is recommended to reduce variability and secular drift and maintain adequate accuracy and completeness.
2) Secular drift and variability in adjudication will be monitored by including 5 randomly selected already adjudicated events for re-adjudication in each batch (at least 10% re-adjudication).

I really appreciate (an need) your help!

Thank you so much

Sunflower

Comments  
Hi Sunflower,

These are very abstract sentences. Can you supply a bit more context? What is the subject that is being discussed?

In simple terms, 'secular' is the opposite of 'religious'. Is the topic related to religion?

Best wishes,

Clive
Dear Clive,

Thanks for you answer! I pasted a another part of the text. It is medical research proposal.

All required documents, reports, hospital records will be identified and copied to the coordinating center (CC) by clinical staff. Then, the CC will check to ensure confidentiality and, if required, have the records centrally abstracted onto standard forms. Central abstraction in large (>30) batches is recommended to reduce variability and secular drift and maintain adequate accuracy and completeness.

Secular drift and variability in adjudication will be monitored by including 5 randomly selected already adjudicated events or adverse events for re-adjudication in each batch (at least 10% re-adjudication). At the regular semi-annual clinical comitte meeting, results of re-adjudication will be reviewed, and consensus decisions will be made.

Best regards!
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Hi again,

I googled 'secular drift' and got things that seemed to relate to the fields of religion, geography and physics. But it ws all rather hard to follow.

Perhaps the term 'secular' is used here in its meaning of 'related to the material world'. 'Drift' suggests to me some natural interference with the data being examined.

I suggest you google this yourself and look at the kinds of things you can find.

Good luck,

Clive
Dear Clive,

I really appreciate your help!
I'll try to find a translation into my language that is close to idea you gave me.

Thanks again,

Best regards!
I had a long look too through the googled hits, Sunflower. It is definitely a phrase from statistics, and appears to mean the non-scientific (= secular) slow movement (=drift) away from accuracy and/or consistency of samples or observations.

I could find no stated definitions, but here are three excerpts which may help clarify:

(1)

Secular Trend: A linear association (trend) with time.

(2)

Reproducibility: We assessed of intra- and inter-observer reproducibility of echocardiographic measurements and interpretations 1-2 times per year, 20 studies each time; We required that personnel meet acceptable reproducibility standards before they were certified to read independently. We assessed secular drift of intra- and inter-observer reproducibility of echocardiographic measurements and interpretation, by reading a calibration set annually. We analyzed sonographer variability by having each sonographer scan 20 subjects twice.

(3)
As you can see, to obtain an accurate estimate of net program effect we must eliminate two sets of threats from our posttest minus pretest measure of gross impact. First, we must eliminate the effects of other process at work during the intervention. This threat to internal validity can include secular drift (long-term trends taking place in the community during the program), interfering events (short-term events occurring during the program), and maturational trends (maturational and developmental changes taking place in the participants during the program).

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Hi Mister Micawber,

I appreciate your attention.
Thank you so much for the help!

Sunflower