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J Physiother. 2014 Sep;60(3):170-3. doi: 10.1016/j.jphys.2014.06.021. Epub 2014 Jul 30.

Forest plots.

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  • 1Department of General Practice, Erasmus Medical Centre University, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
  • 2Musculoskeletal Division, The George Institute for Global Health, Sydney, Australia.


Forest plots are frequently used in meta-analysis to present the results graphically. Without specific knowledge of statistics, a visual assessment of heterogeneity appears to be valid and reproducible. Possible causes of heterogeneity can be explored in modified forest plots. Forest plots in meta-analyses appear to be a valid and useful tool to quickly and efficiently scan and interpret the evidence. The expression ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ certainly expresses the value of forest plots.

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