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Health Psychol. 2010 Mar;29(2):107-16. doi: 10.1037/a0017633.

Ain't necessarily so: review and critique of recent meta-analyses of behavioral medicine interventions in health psychology.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, 3535 Market St., Room 676, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA. jcoyne@mail.med.upenn.edu

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

We examined four meta-analyses of behavioral interventions for adults (Dixon, Keefe, Scipio, Perri, & Abernethy, 2007; Hoffman, Papas, Chatkoff, & Kerns, 2007; Irwin, Cole, & Nicassio, 2006; and Jacobsen, Donovan, Vadaparampil, & Small, 2007) that have appeared in the Evidence Based Treatment Reviews section of Health Psychology.

DESIGN:

Narrative review.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:

We applied the following criteria to each meta-analysis: (1) whether each meta-analysis was described accurately, adequately, and transparently in the article; (2) whether there was an adequate attempt to deal with methodological quality of the original trials; (3) the extent to which the meta-analysis depended on small, underpowered studies; and (4) the extent to which the meta-analysis provided valid and useful evidence-based recommendations.

RESULTS:

Across the four meta-analyses, we identified substantial problems with the transparency and completeness with which these meta-analyses were reported, as well as a dependence on small, underpowered trials of generally poor quality.

CONCLUSION:

Results of our exercise raise questions about the clinical validity and utility of the conclusions of these meta-analyses. Results should serve as a wake up call to prospective authors, reviewers, and end-users of meta-analyses now appearing in the literature.

Copyright 2010 APA, all rights reserved.

PMID:
20230082
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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