Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses in CAM

Contribution and Challenges

Published In: Clinical Research in Complementary Therapies, 2nd Edition / edited by George T. Lewith, Wayne B. Jonas, Harald Walach (Edinburgh, New York : Elsevier, 2010), Ch. 6, p. 119-134

Posted on RAND.org on November 23, 2010

by Klaus Linde, Ian D. Coulter

Read More

Access further information on this document at www.eu.elsevierhealth.com

This article was published outside of RAND. The full text of the article can be found at the link above.

Every year more than two million articles are published in over 20,000 bio­medical journals. Even in specialty areas it is impossible to keep up to date with all relevant new information. In this situation systematic reviews hold a key position to summarize the state of the current knowledge. A review is systematic if it uses predefined and explicit methods for identifying, selecting and assessing the information (typically research stud­ies) deemed relevant to answer the particular question posed. A systematic review is called a meta-analysis if it includes an integrative statistical analysis (pooling) of the included studies. Within complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), systematic reviews are of major relevance. This chapter aims to give an introduction on how to read and how to do a systematic review or a meta-analysis, and discusses advances and limita­tions of this method.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation External publication series. Many RAND studies are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, as chapters in commercial books, or as documents published by other organizations.

Our mission to help improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis is enabled through our core values of quality and objectivity and our unwavering commitment to the highest level of integrity and ethical behavior. To help ensure our research and analysis are rigorous, objective, and nonpartisan, we subject our research publications to a robust and exacting quality-assurance process; avoid both the appearance and reality of financial and other conflicts of interest through staff training, project screening, and a policy of mandatory disclosure; and pursue transparency in our research engagements through our commitment to the open publication of our research findings and recommendations, disclosure of the source of funding of published research, and policies to ensure intellectual independence. For more information, visit www.rand.org/about/principles.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.