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Anesthesia & Analgesia:
doi: 10.1213/ANE.0b013e318248e383
General Articles: Brief Report

Rainy Days for the Society for Pediatric Anesthesia

Greenberg, Robert S. MD; Bembea, Melania MD; Heitmiller, Eugenie MD

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From the Departments of Anesthesiology/Critical Care Medicine and Pediatrics, The Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, Baltimore, Maryland.

Supplemental digital content is available for this article. Direct URL citations appear in the printed text and are provided in the HTML and PDF versions of this article on the journal's Web site (www.anesthesia-analgesia.org).

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

This report was previously presented, in part, at the Society for Pediatric Anesthesia Winter Meeting, San Diego, CA, March 2011.

Reprints will not be available from the authors.

Address correspondence to Robert S. Greenberg, MD, The Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, Blalock 912A, The Johns Hopkins Hospital, 600 North Wolfe St., Baltimore, MD 21287. Address e-mail to rgreenbe@jhmi.edu.

Accepted December 15, 2011

Published ahead of print February 24, 2012

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Abstract

Members of the Society for Pediatric Anesthesia (SPA) perceive the 47% rain rate has burdened its national meetings more than would be expected. We compared weather conditions on the first day of each national SPA meeting since 1987 with historical data using the day, month, and location of each meeting. Using a generalized estimating equations model, the odds ratio of rain comparing meeting and nonmeeting days was 2.63 (P value 0.006, 95% confidence interval 1.32–5.22). These results confirm a significantly higher frequency of rain at national SPA meetings than would be anticipated.

Members of the Society for Pediatric Anesthesia (SPA) contend that its national meetings have been burdened with a more than average likelihood of rain. Using climatological methods,1 we sought to identify and characterize any increased likelihood of rain on the first day of SPA meetings held since the inception of the organization and confirm or deny such perceptions once and for all. We hypothesized that meeting dates would be rainy more frequently than predicted based on previous national weather data.

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METHODS

Dates and locations of national SPA meetings were retrieved from SPA records. The actual weather reported at the prominent airport in the vicinity of the meeting on these dates was retrieved from available sources (http://www.wunderground.com) noting in particular the presence of rain (≥0.01 inches/day) during that day for all meetings from 1987 to 2010. For example, if a meeting was held on October 9, 1987 in Atlanta, then data from October 9 for all years (1987 to 2010, inclusive) were evaluated for rainfall and included in the calculations.

A generalized estimating equation (see Supplemental Digital Content 1, http://links.lww.com/AA/A366) model was used to analyze the association between having the meeting and rain. We reviewed 23 years (1987–2010) of rain records to determine the log odds of rain on the first meeting day analyzed by location and date excluding year. The binary fixed effect was the occurrence of the meeting. Random effect was the combination of location and date excluding year. For each city, location was considered to be that of its major airport. Statistical analysis was conducted using the GENMOD SAS (see Supplemental Digital Content 2, http://links.lww.com/AA/A367) 9.2 procedure (SAS Institute, Inc., Cary, NC). The assumption of normality of random effect was verified and met.

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RESULTS

Thirty-eight SPA meetings were held in 15 different cities (Atlanta [2], Washington, DC [1], Dallas-Fort Worth [1], Fort Myers [2], Jacksonville [1], Las Vegas [3], Miami [2], New Orleans [6], Chicago [1], Orlando [3], Phoenix [4], San Diego [3], San Antonio [2], San Francisco [6], and Tampa [1]) between 1987 and 2010. The total number of SPA meetings with rain on the first day was 18 (47.4%) (Fig. 1).

Figure 1
Figure 1
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Analysis using the generalized estimating equation model (see Supplemental Digital Content 1, http://links.lww.com/AA/A366) suggested a significant association between having the meeting and rain, with estimated odds ratio of rain comparing meeting and nonmeeting days of 2.63 (P value 0.006, 95% confidence interval 1.32–5.22).

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CONCLUSIONS

Based on the available data, we found a significantly higher frequency of rain on the opening day at SPA meetings. Although the actual meteorological basis for this is certainly unclear, perhaps representing a “fluke which must be borne out by at least 100 years of data” (Steven Zubrick, Science and Operations Officer, National Weather Service, Weather Forecast Office Baltimore/Washington Area, Sterling, VA, Personal Communication, August 22, 2011), we contend that it may be something special about the power of the society (rather than merely statistics).

The strength of the analysis, with a P value of 0.006, suggests that the reproducibility of this finding would be at least 70% to 80% on subsequent evaluations, justifying the statistically recognized association.2

SPA leadership has recognized this phenomenon and now offers a stylish umbrella with the SPA logo for purchase at the meetings (Fig. 2). We believe further investigation is warranted (and hope to report the 100-year data in another 70 years) to determine the actual underlying phenomenon and for the selection of optimal cities and meeting dates to reduce the likelihood of a rainy day at SPA meetings in the future. Until then, SPA leadership may use our rainmaking ability to benefit drought-stricken areas when choosing meeting venues.

Figure 2
Figure 2
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DISCLOSURES

Name: Robert S. Greenberg, MD.

Contributions: This author helped design the study, conduct the study, analyze the data, and write the manuscript.

Attestation: Robert S. Greenberg has seen the original study data, reviewed the analysis of the data, approved the final manuscript, and is the author responsible for archiving the study files.

Name: Melania Bembea, MD.

Contributions: This author helped analyze the data and write the manuscript.

Attestation: Melania Bembea has seen the original study data, reviewed the analysis of the data, and approved the final manuscript.

Name: Eugenie Heitmiller, MD.

Contributions: This author helped analyze the data and write the manuscript.

Attestation: Eugenie Heitmiller has seen the original study data, reviewed the analysis of the data, and approved the final manuscript.

This manuscript was handled by: Steven L. Shafer, MD.

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

We thank and greatly appreciate the time and expert statistical consultation of Qilu Yu, PhD, from The Johns Hopkins Institute for Clinical and Translational Research (ICTR), the meteorological consultation of Tom Tasselmyer, Chief Meteorologist, WBAL-TV and Dr. Steve Zubrick, Science and Operations Officer at the National Weather Service for the Baltimore/ Washington area, and we thank Claire Levine, MS, ELS, for her expert editing of the manuscript.

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REFERENCES

1. Robinson PJ, Henderson-Sellers A. Contemporary Climatology. 2nd ed. Harlow, UK: Pearson Education Limited, 1999:5

2. Goodman SN. A comment on replication, P-values, and evidence. Stat Med 1992;11:875–9

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