Estimating the mean and standard deviation from the median and the range

December 3, 2015

(This article was first published on Statistical Reflections of a Medical Doctor » R, and kindly contributed to R-bloggers)

While preparing the data for a meta-analysis, I run into the problem that a few of my sources did not report the outcome of interest as means and standard deviations, but rather as medians and range of values. After looking around, I found this interesting paper which derived (and validated through simple simulations), simple formulas that can be used to convert the median/range into a mean and a variance in a distribution free fashion.  With

  • a = min of the data
  • b = max of the data
  • m = median
  • n = size of the sample

the formulas are as follows:

Mean  \bar{m} = \frac{a+2 m+b}{4} +\frac{a-2 m+b}{4 n}

Variance  \frac{1}{n-1} \Big(a^2+m^2+b^2+\frac{n-3}{2} \frac{(a+m)^2+(b+m)^2}{4}-n \bar{m} \Big)


The following R function will carry out these calculations



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