Meta-analysis, evidence-based medicine, and clinical guidelines

Stephen P. Glasser, Sue Duval

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

2 Scopus citations


Meta-analysis refers to methods for the systematic review of a set of individual studies (either from the aggregate data or the individual patient data) with the aim to quantitatively combine their results. This has become a popular approach to attempt to answer questions when the results from individual studies have not been definitive. This chapter will discuss meta-analyses and highlight issues that need critical assessment before the results of the meta-analysis are accepted. Some of these critical issues include: publication bias, sampling bias, and study heterogeneity. Evidence-based medicine and clinical practice guidelines are dependent upon meta-analyses to guide their recommendations. Evidence-based medicine is an apt term to the extent that it advocates more reliance on clinical research than on personal experience or intuition; and, has led to a paradigm outlining the “level of evidence” that addresses a particular clinical question (also see Chap. 3). These “levels of evidence” are also utilized by clinical practice guidelines, but “as the number of available guidelines provided by a variety of sources has literally exploded, serious questions and controversies have arisen about how guidelines should be developed, implemented, and evaluated”.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationEssentials of Clinical Research, Second Edition
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages29
ISBN (Electronic)9783319054704
ISBN (Print)9783319054698
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014


  • Clinical practice guidelines
  • Evidence-based medicine
  • Meta-analysis
  • Publication bias
  • Systematic review


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