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Asian Institute of Research, Journal Publication, Journal Academics, Education Journal, Asian Institute
Asian Institute of Research, Journal Publication, Journal Academics, Education Journal, Asian Institute

Journal of Health and Medical Sciences

ISSN 2622-7258

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open access

Published: 22 December 2023

Evaluating Heterogeneity in Meta-Analyses: A Review

Rahman Hamze

Rafsanjan University of Medical Sciences

journal of social and political sciences
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Pages: 253-263

Keywords: Meta-Analysis, Heterogeneity, Statistical Methods, Research Synthesis, Methodological Rigor


Meta-analysis, as a fundamental aspect of evidence-based practice, synthesizes findings from multiple studies to draw comprehensive conclusions. A critical element of this synthesis is heterogeneity - the variability in outcomes, methodologies, and characteristics across studies. This review provides an in-depth exploration of heterogeneity in meta-analyses, highlighting its types, impact, and evolution over time. It emphasizes the significance of methodological rigor in detecting and managing heterogeneity, which is crucial for the credibility and utility of meta-analytic results. We delve into the methods for evaluating heterogeneity, including statistical tests like Cochran's Q test and the I² statistic, and visual methods such as forest plots and funnel plots. The paper also discusses strategies for managing identified heterogeneity, such as subgroup analysis, meta-regression, and sensitivity analysis, and the importance of choosing the appropriate statistical model. Advanced developments in heterogeneity evaluation, driven by statistical, technological, and methodological innovations, are also examined. This includes Bayesian approaches, individual participant data (IPD) meta-analysis, and automated tools for literature search and data extraction. The review includes case studies to demonstrate the application of these methods in various research contexts, underscoring the complexity and necessity of continuous advancements in handling heterogeneity. This paper serves as a comprehensive guide for researchers, contributing to the enhancement of meta-analytic practices and the quality of research findings across disciplines.


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