Synthesizing and presenting results when meta-analysis is not possible
Simon Turner, Methods in Evidence Synthesis Unit, School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Monash University
Sue Brennan, Cochrane Australia, Monash University
Miranda Cumpston, School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Monash University
Theresa Moore, Population Health Sciences, Bristol Medical School, University of Bristol. The National Institute for Health and Care Research Applied Research Collaboration West (NIHR ARC West) at University Hospita
In reviews in which meta-analysis is not used, authors commonly report results study-by-study or draw conclusions without reporting how findings were interpreted across studies. These approaches may leave decision-makers to make sense of the findings themselves and undermine confidence in the evidence. There are many circumstances that may preclude the use of meta-analysis of effect estimates. For example, when there is incomplete information reported about the intervention effect estimates (e.g., missing standard errors) or inconsistency in the reported effect metrics across studies. Planning for circumstances that may preclude meta-analysis can ensure that reviewers make the best use of available data and produce more useful syntheses for decision-makers. This workshop will cover structured summary, synthesis methods, and visual display methods that can be used in these circumstances (sometimes referred to as “narrative synthesis”).
• To illustrate the importance of planning for scenarios in which meta-analysis is not possible through application in a practical example.
• To demonstrate the application of structured summary, other synthesis, and visual display methods.
Description: Based on guidance in Chapter 12 of version 6 of the Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions, we will use a combination of presentations, interactive exercises, and group work to cover the following topics:
• Scenarios that may preclude meta-analysis
• Other synthesis and presentation methods, along with their advantages and disadvantages, and guidance on when to use which approach
• Exploring extracted data to determine what other synthesis methods might be used if meta-analysis is not possible
• Suggestions for what to write in the protocol, the methods section of the review, and how to describe the results of the synthesis Participants will work through examples that illustrate different approaches to structured summary and statistical synthesis of data.