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Microbiol Spectr. 2016 Oct;4(5). doi: 10.1128/microbiolspec.PFS-0004-2014.

Potential for Meta-Analysis in the Realm of Preharvest Food Safety.

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Center for Public Health and Zoonoses and Department of Population Medicine, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON, Canada N1G 2W1.
Department of Veterinary Diagnostic and Production Animal Medicine, Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine, Ames, IA 50100.


Meta-analysis, the statistical combination of results from multiple studies, can be used to summarize all of the available research on an intervention, etiology, descriptive, or diagnostic test accuracy question. Meta-analysis should be conducted as a component of a systematic review, to increase transparency in the selection of studies and to incorporate an evaluation of the risk of bias in the individual studies included in the meta-analysis. The process of meta-analysis may include a forest plot to graphically display the study results and the calculation of a weighted average summary effect size. Heterogeneity (differences in the effect size between studies) can be evaluated using formal statistics and the reasons for heterogeneity can be explored using sub-group analysis or meta-regression. Thus, meta-analysis may be a useful methodology for preharvest food safety research to aid in policy or clinical decision-making or to provide input to quantitative risk assessment or other models.

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