Meta-analysis, collaborative overview, systematic review: what does it all mean?

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  • Format Texts
  • Language/s English
  • Target Audience Further education
  • EBM Stage 2 - Finding the evidence, 3 - Appraising evidence
  • Duration 5-15 mins
  • Difficulty Intermediate

Key Concepts addressed



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.

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