Statistical analysis of individual participant data meta-analyses: a comparison of methods and recommendations for practice.
OPEN PloS one | 11 Oct 2012
GB Stewart, DG Altman, LM Askie, L Duley, MC Simmonds and LA Stewart
Individual participant data (IPD) meta-analyses that obtain “raw” data from studies rather than summary data typically adopt a “two-stage” approach to analysis whereby IPD within trials generate summary measures, which are combined using standard meta-analytical methods. Recently, a range of “one-stage” approaches which combine all individual participant data in a single meta-analysis have been suggested as providing a more powerful and flexible approach. However, they are more complex to implement and require statistical support. This study uses a dataset to compare “two-stage” and “one-stage” models of varying complexity, to ascertain whether results obtained from the approaches differ in a clinically meaningful way.
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