A 7-Step Guideline for Qualitative Synthesis and Meta-Analysis of Observational Studies in Health Sciences.

Glisic, Marija; Raguindin, Peter Francis; Gemperli, Armin; Taneri, Petek Eylul; Salvador, Dante Jr; Voortman, Trudy; Marques Vidal, Pedro; Papatheodorou, Stefania I; Kunutsor, Setor K; Bano, Arjola; Ioannidis, John P A; Muka, Taulant (2023). A 7-Step Guideline for Qualitative Synthesis and Meta-Analysis of Observational Studies in Health Sciences. Public health reviews, 44, p. 1605454. BMC (part of Springer Nature), United Kingdom 10.3389/phrs.2023.1605454

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Objectives: To provide a step-by-step, easy-to-understand, practical guide for systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies. Methods: A multidisciplinary team of researchers with extensive experience in observational studies and systematic review and meta-analysis was established. Previous guidelines in evidence synthesis were considered. Results: There is inherent variability in observational study design, population, and analysis, making evidence synthesis challenging. We provided a framework and discussed basic meta-analysis concepts to assist reviewers in making informed decisions. We also explained several statistical tools for dealing with heterogeneity, probing for bias, and interpreting findings. Finally, we briefly discussed issues and caveats for translating results into clinical and public health recommendations. Our guideline complements "A 24-step guide on how to design, conduct, and successfully publish a systematic review and meta-analysis in medical research" and addresses peculiarities for observational studies previously unexplored. Conclusion: We provided 7 steps to synthesize evidence from observational studies. We encourage medical and public health practitioners who answer important questions to systematically integrate evidence from observational studies and contribute evidence-based decision-making in health sciences.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Review Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Cardiovascular Disorders (DHGE) > Clinic of Cardiology
04 Faculty of Medicine > Pre-clinic Human Medicine > Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine (ISPM)

Graduate School:

Graduate School for Health Sciences (GHS)

UniBE Contributor:

Glisic, Marija, Raguindin, Peter Francis, Salvador, Dante Jr., Bano, Arjola, Muka, Taulant


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




BMC (part of Springer Nature), United Kingdom


[222] Horizon 2020 ; [226] Swiss School of Public Health Global P3HS




Pubmed Import

Date Deposited:

05 Jun 2023 14:37

Last Modified:

17 Jul 2023 17:16

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

cohort studies cross-sectional studies evidence-based approach observational study systematic review and meta-analysis





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