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J Clin Epidemiol. 2000 Sep;53(9):964-72.

What contributions do languages other than English make on the results of meta-analyses?

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Thomas C. Chalmers Center for Systematic Reviews, Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute, Ontario, Ottawa, Canada.


Including only a portion of all available evidence may introduce systematic errors into the meta-analytic process and threaten its validity. We set out to examine whether language restricted meta-analyses, compared to language inclusive meta-analyses, provide different estimates of the effectiveness of interventions evaluated in randomized trials. We identified and retrieved all 79 meta-analyses from several disease areas in which explicit eligibility criteria regarding trial selection were reported. General characteristics and quality of reporting of the meta-analyses were assessed using a validated instrument. We explored the effects of language of publication of the randomized trials on the quantitative results using logistic regression analyses. Language restricted meta-analyses, compared to language inclusive meta-analyses, did not differ with respect to the estimate of benefit of the effectiveness of an intervention (ROR = 0.98; 95% CI: 0.81-1.17). These results were also robust after a series of sensitivity analyses. This study provides no evidence that language restricted meta-analyses lead to biased estimates of intervention effectiveness. We encourage others to replicate this study using different sampling frames, clinical topics and interventions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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