Please socially distance me from this regression model!

A biostatistician writes:

The BMJ just published a paper using regression discontinuity to estimate the effect of social distancing. But they have terrible models. As I am from Canada, I had particular interest in the model for Canada, which is on their supplemental material, page 84 [reproduced above].

I could not believe this was published. Here they are interested in change in slope, but for some reason they have a change in intercept (a jump) parameter, which I find difficult to justify. They have plenty of bad models in my estimation.

For completeness, here is the main paper, but you don’t even need to look at it . . .

Please, I would like not to have my name mentioned.

I agree with my correspondent that this graph does not look like a very good advertisement for their method!

Why did the British Medical Journal publish this paper? It’s an important topic, maybe none of the reviewers actually read the paper carefully, maybe it’s actually a wonderful piece of science and my correspondent and I just don’t realize this . . . the usual explanations!

I’m guessing that medical and public health journals feel a lot of pressure to publish papers on coronavirus, and there’s also the same sort of fomo that led to the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology publishing that ESP article in 2011. Never underestimate the power of fomo.