There are three possible levels of analysis in clinical research. Primary analysis deals with the original analysis of research study data. Secondary analysis is a reanalysis of the original data, either to address the original question through better techniques or to address a new question using old data. Meta-analysis is a statistical analysis of many studies done to summarize a body of literature. Meta-analysis is particularly helpful in an area in which original research studies have produced conflicting results because it enables analysis of the impact of study characteristics upon the end result. The family practitioner as a consumer of research needs to become familiar with the technique of meta-analysis because it is appearing with increasing frequency in the medical literature. Still somewhat controversial, meta-analysis requires a rigorous approach to ensure its validity: this editorial is written to assist the family practitioner in an understanding of the meta-analytic technique and point out important features that need to appear in any published meta-analysis.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Family Practice