The statistical analyses that are used to synthesize summary data from a series of studies. If the effect size (or treatment effect) is consistent across all the studies in the synthesis, then the meta-analysis yields a combined effect that is more precise than any of the separate estimates, and also allows us to conclude that the effect is robust across the kinds of studies sampled. By contrast, if the effect size (or treatment effect) varies from one study to the next, the meta-analysis may allow us to identify the reason for the variation and report (for example) that the treatment is more effective in a particular kind of patient, or in a particular dose range.

• January 15, 2015

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