Quality of Conduct and Reporting of Meta-analyses of Surgical Interventions

Sam Adie, David Ma, Ian Harris, Justine Naylor, Jonathan Craig

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Meta-analyses are useful tools for summarizing surgical evidence as they aim to encompassmultiple sources of information on a particular research question, but they may be prone to methodological and reporting biases. We evaluated the conduct and reporting of meta-analyses of surgical interventions. Methods and Findings: We performed a systematic review of 150 metaanalyses of randomized trials of surgical interventions published between January 2010 and June 2011. A comprehensive search strategy was executed using MEDLINE, EMBASE, and the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. Data were independently extracted by 2 authors using the PRISMA statement (preferred reporting items for systematic reviews and meta-analyses, a standardized quality of reporting guideline) and AMSTAR (a tool for methodological quality). Descriptive statistics were used for individual items, and as a measure of overall compliance, PRISMA and AMSTAR scores were calculated as the sum of adequately reported domains. A median of 8 trials (interquartile range = 8) was included in each meta-analysis. One third of all meta-analyses had an author with a background in epidemiology and/or statistics. Forty-four percent were published in PRISMA-endorsing journals with a median impact factor of 3.5. There was moderate compliance with PRISMA, with an average of 71% of items reported, but poorer compliance with AMSTAR, with 48% of items adequately described, on average. Conclusions: Substantial gaps in the conduct and reporting of meta-analyses within the surgical literature exist, mainly in the specification of aims and/or objectives, the use of preplanned protocols, and the evaluation of potential bias at the review (rather than trial) level. Editorial insistence on using reporting guidelines would improve this situation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)685-694
Number of pages10
JournalAnnals of Surgery
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2015


  • Bias
  • Clinical epidemiology
  • Meta-analysis
  • Quality
  • Reporting
  • Surgery
  • Systematic review


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