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Stony Brook University

Systematic Reviews: Meta Analysis

A guide to conducting systematic reviews.

About Meta-Analysis

In most cases, a Meta-Analysis is a Systematic Review with quantitative statistics applied to the results.

It is very rare to do a Meta-Analysis that is not based on a Systematic Review: those cases usually occur when there is a known, specific group of high-quality Randomized Controlled Trials conducted on the same question due to high interest in the topic.

Meta-Analysis uses a particular type of statistical analysis based on pooling the data from several very clinical trials in order to increase the overall sample size and power. It is only feasible when there is a set of trials addressing the same question, using the same intervention(s) and control(s), in the same population, and measuring the same outcomes.

If you plan to do a Meta-Analysis: make sure a member of your team is a qualified statistician.

The Systematic Review portion of a Meta-Analysis is not altered by the plan to conduct the additional statistical analysis.

Sample Meta-Analysis Forest Plot

Sukeik M, Alshryda S, Haddad FS, Mason JM. Systematic review and meta-analysis of the use of tranexamic acid in total hip replacement. J Bone Joint Surg Br. 2011 Jan;93(1):39-46. Review. PubMed PMID: 21196541.