Methods to systematically review and meta-analyse observational studies: a systematic scoping review of recommendations.

Müller, Monika; D'Addario, Maddalena; Egger, Matthias; Cevallos, Myriam; Dekkers, Olaf; Mugglin, Catrina; Scott, Pippa (2018). Methods to systematically review and meta-analyse observational studies: a systematic scoping review of recommendations. BMC Medical research methodology, 18(1), p. 44. BioMed Central 10.1186/s12874-018-0495-9

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BACKGROUND Systematic reviews and meta-analyses of observational studies are frequently performed, but no widely accepted guidance is available at present. We performed a systematic scoping review of published methodological recommendations on how to systematically review and meta-analyse observational studies. METHODS We searched online databases and websites and contacted experts in the field to locate potentially eligible articles. We included articles that provided any type of recommendation on how to conduct systematic reviews and meta-analyses of observational studies. We extracted and summarised recommendations on pre-defined key items: protocol development, research question, search strategy, study eligibility, data extraction, dealing with different study designs, risk of bias assessment, publication bias, heterogeneity, statistical analysis. We summarised recommendations by key item, identifying areas of agreement and disagreement as well as areas where recommendations were missing or scarce. RESULTS The searches identified 2461 articles of which 93 were eligible. Many recommendations for reviews and meta-analyses of observational studies were transferred from guidance developed for reviews and meta-analyses of RCTs. Although there was substantial agreement in some methodological areas there was also considerable disagreement on how evidence synthesis of observational studies should be conducted. Conflicting recommendations were seen on topics such as the inclusion of different study designs in systematic reviews and meta-analyses, the use of quality scales to assess the risk of bias, and the choice of model (e.g. fixed vs. random effects) for meta-analysis. CONCLUSION There is a need for sound methodological guidance on how to conduct systematic reviews and meta-analyses of observational studies, which critically considers areas in which there are conflicting recommendations.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

04 Faculty of Medicine > Pre-clinic Human Medicine > Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine
04 Faculty of Medicine > Pre-clinic Human Medicine > CTU Bern
04 Faculty of Medicine > University Psychiatric Services > University Hospital of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy > Translational Research Center

UniBE Contributor:

Müller, Monika; D'Addario, Maddalena; Egger, Matthias; Cevallos Rosero, Myriam and Mugglin, Catrina Andrea

Subjects:

600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health
300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 360 Social problems & social services

ISSN:

1471-2288

Publisher:

BioMed Central

Language:

English

Submitter:

Tanya Karrer

Date Deposited:

24 May 2018 12:47

Last Modified:

23 Oct 2019 01:08

Publisher DOI:

10.1186/s12874-018-0495-9

PubMed ID:

29783954

Uncontrolled Keywords:

Meta-analysis Methods Observational studies Recommendation Systematic review

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.116791

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/116791

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