Meta-analysis, collaborative overview, systematic review: what does it all mean?
Mike Clarke’s 9-minute read on meta-analysis, collaborative overview, systematic review.Key Concepts addressed:
- 2-9 Reviews of fair comparisons should be systematic
- 2-11 All fair comparisons and outcomes should be reported
- 2-13 Relative measures of effects can be misleading
- 2-14 Average measures of effects can be misleading
Bringing together the evidence from randomised controlled trials is increasingly common. Depending on the techniques used, the process might be called a systematic review, meta-analysis or collaborative overview. All relevant trials are identified and those of a satisfactory standard are reviewed. In a meta-analysis, each trial is assessed separately and the summary statistics are then combined to give an overall result. Neither meta-analyses nor systematic reviews are a substitute for prospective clinical trials, rather, they are a complement to them.