How to read and understand and use systematic reviews and meta-analyses
Version of Record online: 18 MAY 2009
© 2009 John Wiley & Sons A/S
Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica
Volume 119, Issue 6, pages 443–450, June 2009
How to Cite
Leucht, S., Kissling, W. and Davis, J. M. (2009), How to read and understand and use systematic reviews and meta-analyses. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 119: 443–450. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0447.2009.01388.x
- Issue online: 18 MAY 2009
- Version of Record online: 18 MAY 2009
- Accepted for publication March 5, 2009
- systematic review;
Objective : Systematic reviews and meta-analyses are increasingly frequently used in the evaluation of medical treatments. This review explains the principles of the methodology, significance and limitations of systematic reviews.
Method: Short review article.
Results: In contrast to conventional reviews, systematic reviews use a structured approach in retrieving, analyzing and interpreting the evidence. A comprehensive search strategy is applied to identify all relevant trials. Study selection and data extraction is performed independently by at least two reviewers. The data are usually synthesized in a meta-analysis applying statistical methods to examine homogeneity. Funnel plots and other statistical methods are applied to detect publication bias.
Conclusion: Due to the enormous amount of scientific information published every year, systematic reviews and meta-analyses have become indispensable methods for the evaluation of medical treatments.