Robert Hodgson

Research Consultant at York Health Economics Consortium (YHEC)

Author of: What is meta-analysis?

Robert-HodgsonDr Robert Hodgson is a Research Consultant at York Health Economics Consortium (YHEC). He holds a PhD from the University of Sheffield and an MSc from the University of Manchester, both in Economics. As a systematic reviewer and statistician, Robert plays an active role in conducting and managing systematic review projects within YHEC, as well as holding a position as a health economist, designing and building economic models.

Previous roles include a National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) Research Methods Fellowship held at the University of York, where Robert was part of the Cochrane Wounds Group.

Robert’s research interests include systematic review and randomised trial methods, bias in randomised controlled trials and health technology assessment methods.

Summary: What is meta-analysis?

Meta-analysis is a set of statistical techniques for combining data from independent studies to produce a single estimate of effect.

Meta-analysis is most often used within healthcare, but is also applied in other disciplines including psychology and the social sciences.

Within healthcare, meta-analysis is most often used to assess the clinical effectiveness of interventions; it does this by combining data from two or more studies (usually randomised controlled trials).

Meta-analysis of trials provides more precise estimates of treatment effect, by making use of all available data.

Meta-analysis is often part of the systematic review processmany systematic reviews include one or more meta-analyses.

The validity of any meta-analysis depends on the studies on which it is based.

Well-conducted meta-analyses aim for complete coverage of all relevant studies, look for the presence of heterogeneity among studies, and explore the robustness of the main findings using sensitivity analysis.