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Acta Psychiatr Scand. 2009 Jun;119(6):443-50. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0447.2009.01388.x.

How to read and understand and use systematic reviews and meta-analyses.

Author information

  • 1Klinik and Poliklinik für Psychiatrie and Psychotherapie, Technische Universität München, München, Germany. Stefan.Leucht@lrz.tum.de

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

Systematic reviews and meta-analyses are increasingly frequently used in the evaluation of medical treatments. This review explains the principles of the methodology, significance and limitations of systematic reviews.

METHOD:

Short review article.

RESULTS:

In contrast to conventional reviews, systematic reviews use a structured approach in retrieving, analyzing and interpreting the evidence. A comprehensive search strategy is applied to identify all relevant trials. Study selection and data extraction is performed independently by at least two reviewers. The data are usually synthesized in a meta-analysis applying statistical methods to examine homogeneity. Funnel plots and other statistical methods are applied to detect publication bias.

CONCLUSION:

Due to the enormous amount of scientific information published every year, systematic reviews and meta-analyses have become indispensable methods for the evaluation of medical treatments.

PMID:
19469725
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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