5 years ago

A meta-analysis but not a systematic review: an evaluation of the Global BMI Mortality Collaboration

Meta-analyses of individual participant data (MIPDs) offer many advantages and are considered the highest level of evidence. However, MIPDs can be seriously compromised when they are not solidly founded upon a systematic review. These data-intensive collaborative projects may be led by experts who already have deep knowledge of the literature in the field and of the results of published studies and how these results vary based on different analytical approaches. If investigators tailor the searches, eligibility criteria, and analysis plan of the MIPD, they run the risk of reaching foregone conclusions. We exemplify this potential bias in a MIPD on the association of body mass index with mortality conducted by a collaboration of outstanding and extremely knowledgeable investigators. Contrary to a previous meta-analysis of group data that used a systematic review approach, the MIPD did not seem to use a formal search: it considered 239 studies, of which the senior author was previously aware of at least 238, and it violated its own listed eligibility criteria to include those studies and exclude other studies. It also preferred an analysis plan that was also known to give a specific direction of effects in already published results of most of the included evidence. MIPDs where results of constituent studies are already largely known need safeguards to their validity. These may include careful systematic searches, adherence to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Review and Meta-Analyses of individual participant data guidelines, and exploration of the robustness of results with different analyses. They should also avoid selective emphasis on foregone conclusions based on previously known results with specific analytical choices.

Publisher URL: www.sciencedirect.com/science

DOI: S0895435616306904

You might also like
Discover & Discuss Important Research

Keeping up-to-date with research can feel impossible, with papers being published faster than you'll ever be able to read them. That's where Researcher comes in: we're simplifying discovery and making important discussions happen. With over 19,000 sources, including peer-reviewed journals, preprints, blogs, universities, podcasts and Live events across 10 research areas, you'll never miss what's important to you. It's like social media, but better. Oh, and we should mention - it's free.

  • Download from Google Play
  • Download from App Store
  • Download from AppInChina

Researcher displays publicly available abstracts and doesn’t host any full article content. If the content is open access, we will direct clicks from the abstracts to the publisher website and display the PDF copy on our platform. Clicks to view the full text will be directed to the publisher website, where only users with subscriptions or access through their institution are able to view the full article.