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Comment & Response
December 3, 2014

Assessment of Heterogeneity in Meta-analyses

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Quantitative Health Sciences, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, Massachusetts
JAMA. 2014;312(21):2286-2287. doi:10.1001/jama.2014.14346

To the Editor Dr Dechartres and colleagues1 investigated the association between analytic strategy and estimates of treatment outcomes in meta-analysis. In view of the emphasis that Dechartres and colleagues1 placed on the risk of bias in selecting trials for meta-analysis, it is unfortunate that their meta-analyses relied on the method of DerSimonian and Laird.2 Evidence of its shortcomings has been accumulating for many years, and Cornell et al3 provide an accurate summary: “the most widely used method for pooling heterogeneous studies—the DerSimonian-Laird (DL) estimator—can produce biased estimates with falsely high precision.” This reliance on the DerSimonian-Laird estimator weakens the study.

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