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- meta-analysis - this is purely a statistical technique for averaging an
effect of treatment across studies
- a meta-analysis integrates the quantitative
findings from separate but similar studies and provides a numerical estimate of
the overall effect of interest
- systematic review - this is a
process where the investigators will identify the studies that have been undertaken
relevant to a particular hypothesis. There may be none or it may be that trials
are so different from each other that it makes not sense to try and find the average
effect, in which case the reviewers will not undertake a meta-analysis. If there
are suitable results from similar studies then these can be combined using a meta-analysis
and are generally displayed in a Forest
- Petrie et al describe a systematic review as "... an efficient
approach to integrating existing information, invariably a multiplicity of published
articles, with a view to establishing whether the scientific findings are consistent.
If so, it may be possible to draw conclusions and make recommendations about treatment
regimens or observed effects which have greater credence than those obtained from
- the undertaking of a systematic review relies
on a specified checklist which determines which articles should be included in
the review, and how each should be critically appraised to provide relevant information
relating to the focus of the review
(June 16th 2005): 85.
- Petrie A et al. Further statistics in dentistry
Part 8: Systematic reviews and meta-analyses.BDJ 2003; 194(2):73-78.
Last reviewed 01/2018