Author(s): Sacks HS, Reitman D, Pagano D, Kupelnick B
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Abstract A fairly new type of research, termed meta-analysis, attempts to analyze and combine the results of previous reports. In 1992 we updated our 1987 survey of 86 meta-analyses of randomized control trial reports in the english language literature with an additional 78. We evaluated the quality of these meta-analyses using a scoring method that lists 23 items in six major areas: study design, combinability, control of bias, statistical analysis, sensitivity analysis, and application of results. Of the 23 individual items, the mean number satisfactorily addressed was 7.63 +/- 2.84 (mean +/- S.D.) for 40 papers published from 1955 through 1982, 6.80 +/- 3.86 for 66 papers published from 1983 through 1986, and 11.91 +/- 4.79 for 58 papers published from 1987 through 1990 (F = 31.3, p < .001). We noted that methodology has definitely improved since our first survey of meta-analyses, but an urgent need still exists for a better search of the literature, quality evaluation of trials, and a synthesis of the results. Recently, meta-analysis has expanded to cover non-randomized studies, including evaluation of diagnostic tests and pooling of epidemiologic studies. There is growing concern for standards, and several methodologic issues remain unresolved.
This article was published in Mt Sinai J Med
and referenced in Evidence based Medicine and Practice