Medical Writing Statistics A medical writer's guide to meta-analysis

Volume 25, Issue 3 - Statistics

A medical writer's guide to meta-analysis


Meta-analysis is a statistical technique for summarising the results of multiple studies in a quantitative manner. It should not be confused with a systematic review, though in practice the two are often found together. The main pitfalls with meta-analyses are being sure that the studies being combined are similar enough that it makes sense to combine them, and being sure that all relevant studies have been included.

Download the full article


  1. Higgins JPT, Thompson SG, Deeks JJ, Altman DG. Measuring inconsistency in meta-analyses. BMJ. 2003;327:557–60.
  2. Annane D, Bellissant E, Bollaert E, Briegel J, Keh D, Kupfer Y. Corticosteroids for severe sepsis and septic shock: a systematic review and meta-analysis BMJ. 2004;329(7464):480.
  3. Morgan, Paul (@drpaulmorgan). “@statsguyuk Very! The hostresponse mechanism is a mix of genetics (cytokine response) and the individual bug. Lots of interesting research!”. [Tweet,10 June 2016, 8:12 AM]. Available from:
  4. Mozaffarian D, Micha R, Wallace S. Effects on Coronary Heart Disease of Increasing Polyunsaturated Fat in Place of Saturated Fat: A Systematic Review and Meta- Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. PLoS Med. 2010;7(3):e1000252.
  5. Jacobs A. Zombie statistics on half of all clinical trials unpublished. [Blogpost; 29 August 2015]. Available from:
  6. Song F, Parekh S, Hooper L, Loke YK, Ryder J, Sutton AJ, et al. Dissemination and publication of research findings: an updated review of related biases. Health Technol Assess. 2010;14(8).
  7. Jacobs A. Cochrane review on industry sponsorship. [Blogpost; 20 December 2012]. Available from:



Statistics for medical writers
President's Message
History of biostatistics
The illusion of certainty and the certainty of illusion
Never P alone: The value of estimates and confidence intervals
A medical writer's guide to meta-analysis
Study design made easy
Statistical analyses and methods in the published literature: The SAMPL guidelines
How to interpret and report the results from multivariable analyses
Biostatistics and medical writing: Synergy in preparing clinical trials documents
Best friends forever: A pattern of collaboration between medical writers and biostatisticians within the Russian CRO
Where have all the UK entry level pharmaceutical regulatory medical writing jobs gone?
News from the EMA
Journal Watch
In the Bookstores
The Webscout
Good Writing Practice
Medical Communications
Getting Your Foot in the Door
Lingua Franca and Beyond
Gained in Translation
Teaching Medical Writing
Profile: An interview with Professor Peter Jüni on methodology and statistics in scientific manuscripts
Out On Our Own

Member Login


The Write Stuff Archive Contact Instructions for Authors Feature Article Template (Word) Journal Policies

Editoral Board



Managing Editor

show all +

Associate Editors:

Section Editors:

Ad-hoc Editors:

  • Amy Whereat (SpeaktheSpeech Consulting, Asnieres sur Seine, France)

Editor Emeritus: