Systematic reviews and meta-analyses: a step-by-step guide

Step 7

Data synthesis

You can present the data from the studies narratively and/or statistically (a meta-analysis). If studies are very heterogenous it may be most appropriate to summarise the data narratively and not attempt a statistical (meta-analytic) summary.

There are guidelines as to how to present a narrative synthesis here (see section - Narrative Synthesis). A statistical synthesis should include numerical and graphical presentations of the data, and also look at the strength and consistency of the evidence, and investigate reasons for any inconsistencies. 

For guidance on how to review a diagnostic study see this powerpoint presentation by Francesca Chappell.


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