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Invited Commentary
July 29, 2019

Meta-analysis Metastasis

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Environmental Health Sciences, Yale School of Public Health, and the Collaboration for Research Integrity and Transparency, Yale Law School, New Haven, Connecticut
JAMA Intern Med. 2019;179(11):1594-1595. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2019.2999

In 2016, following an evaluation of publication trends over the last few decades, Ioannidis1 declared that “the production of systematic reviews and meta-analyses has reached epidemic proportions.” In particular, he estimated that the annual number of published systematic reviews and meta-analyses increased approximately 2700% from 1991 to 2014.1 Systematic reviews and meta-analyses, which are fundamental tools of evidence-based medicine, aim to accumulate, synthesize, and evaluate evidence across individual studies, with the goal of resolving uncertainties, reducing biases, and informing practice. However, the production of reviews has far outpaced the 150% increase in annual publications across all PubMed–indexed article types between 1991 and 2014.1 These recent trends have led to questions about the purpose, quality, and credibility of most reviews as well as calls to abandon systematic reviews and meta-analyses altogether.

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