Meta-analysis as a system of springs.

Papakonstantinou, Theodoros; Nikolakopoulou, Adriani; Egger, Matthias; Salanti, Georgia (2021). Meta-analysis as a system of springs. Research Synthesis Methods, 12(1), pp. 20-28. Wiley 10.1002/jrsm.1470

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Meta-analysis results are usually presented in forest plots, which show the individual study results and the summary effect along with their confidence intervals. In this paper, we propose a system of linear springs as a mechanical analogue of metaanalysis that enables visualisation and enhances intuition. The length of a spring corresponds to a study treatment effect and the stiffness of the spring corresponds to its inverse variance. To synthesise study springs we use two main operations: connection in parallel and connection in series. We show the equivalence between meta-analysis and linear springs for fixed effect and random effects pairwise metaanalysis and we also derive indirect treatment effects. We use examples to illustrate the different meta-analytical schemes using the corresponding system of springs. The proposed visualization tool can serve as an educational plot, especially useful for researchers with no statistical background. The analogy between meta-analysis and springs facilitates intuition for notions such as heterogeneity and the differences between fixed and random effects meta-analysis. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

04 Faculty of Medicine > Pre-clinic Human Medicine > Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine (ISPM)

UniBE Contributor:

Papakonstantinou, Theodoros; Nikolakopoulou, Adriani; Egger, Matthias and Salanti, Georgia

Subjects:

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

ISSN:

1759-2879

Publisher:

Wiley

Language:

English

Submitter:

Doris Kopp Heim

Date Deposited:

21 Dec 2020 14:31

Last Modified:

19 Feb 2021 15:21

Publisher DOI:

10.1002/jrsm.1470

PubMed ID:

33264498

Uncontrolled Keywords:

evidence synthesis mechanical analogue visualization

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.149999

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/149999

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