Since 2013, I have been experimenting with family data science – or the process of drawing deeper understanding and insights to help my wife and daughters grow, stay healthy and be happy. A recent analysis in one of my family datasets revealed an interesting observation regarding our kids and the days of the week in which they tend to experience the most symptoms (e.g. cough, runny nose, congestion).
The dataset in question represents a record log of symptoms I keep to track the things affecting my family over the course of the year.
Pivoting my way through this dataset, I landed on a table showing the frequency of my daughters’ symptoms by days of the week (see table 1 below).
When I showed my wife this table, we couldn’t help reacting to the fact that the largest number of symptoms (thirty-two percent) occurred on Sundays. Of course there can be many reasons for this, but we wondered whether good ol’ Monday back to school anxiety may be stressing the kids unnecessarily.
Digging in a little bit more, table 2 reveals that 97% of these Sunday symptoms occurred in quarters when school was in session. In other words, the only quarter with no Sunday symptoms is the same quarter when school is mostly closed for summer!
Numbers can be deceiving. Table 1 and 2 support the school night hypothesis but table 2 also suggests an entirely different one that has more to do with the onset of colder weather. This is because 80% of the Sunday symptoms from table 2 occurred during the mostly cold Northern Hemisphere autumn and winter months. Another factor complicating the original hypothesis has to do with the date when I recorded the symptoms. I tend to have more free time on Sunday compared to other days of the week. It is entirely possible I was capitalizing on this free time to record symptoms which, in actuality, appeared prior to Sunday.
Conclusive one way or the other? Definitely not. With only a few years of data, it is clearly too early to reach any credible conclusions on this. Nonetheless, the data does make for some interesting observations which are just some of the benefits of practicing a little family data science.