An Introduction to Systematic Reviews and Meta-analysis

Systematic Reviews

As the name implies, typically involves a detailed and comprehensive plan and search strategy derived a priori, with the goal of reducing bias by identifying, appraising, and synthesizing all relevant studies on a particular topic.


Often, systematic reviews include a meta-analysis component which involves using statistical techniques to synthesize the data from several studies into a single quantitative estimate or summary effect size.

Significance of Systematic Reviews

The volume of published material makes it impractical for an individual clinician to remain up to date on a variety of common conditions. This is further complicated when individual studies report conflicting conclusions, a problem that is prevalent when small patient samples and retrospective designs are used.