Introduction to meta-analysis 3: Dealing with heterogeneity

Topic category Statistical methods and meta-analysis
Date and Location
Wednesday 3 October 2012 - 13:30 - 15:00
Methods Group
Methods Group: 
Statistical Methods Group
Contact persons and facilitators
Contact person Affiliation Country
Georgia Salanti (Contact this person) University of Ioannina School of Medicine Greece
Facilitator Affiliation Country
Georgia Salanti University of Ioannina School of Medicine Greece
Target audience
Target audience: 
Review authors
Is your workshop restricted to a specific audience or open to all Colloquium participants?: 
Level of knowledge required: 
Type of workshop
Type of workshop: 
Abstract text
The Cochrane Statistical Methods Group has developed a series of workshops addressing statistical guidelines as formulated in the Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions. This workshop will provide review authors with the knowledge to understand and investigate variability across studies in a meta-analysis, and to recognise the limitations of the methods available.

This training workshop will address approaches to dealing with between-study variability, or heterogeneity, in the results of a series of clinical trials. We first will discuss some potential sources of between-study variability, and overview some methods for identifying whether heterogeneity poses a problem in a particular set of studies. We then will focus on issues related to dealing with study variability once it has been identified. In particular, we will discuss the decision whether or not to combine results; the choice between fixed=effect and random-effects analyses; and the use of subgroup analyses (with a brief mention of meta-regression). Discussion will be supplemented with practical examples from the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.