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Many meta-analyses of rare events in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews were underpowered

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Version 2 2023-10-22, 07:07
Version 1 2023-09-27, 11:53
journal contribution
revised on 2023-10-22, 07:06 and posted on 2023-10-22, 07:07 authored by Pengli Jia, Lifeng Lin, Joey S.W. Kwong, Chang Xu

Background and Objective

Meta-analysis is a statistical method with the ability to increase the power for statistical inference, while it may still face the problem of being underpowered. In this study, we investigated the power to detect certain true effects for published meta-analyses of rare events.

Methods

We extracted data from the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews for meta-analyses of rare events from January 2003 to May 2018. We retrospectively estimated the power to detect a 10–50% relative risk reduction (RRR) of eligible meta-analyses. The proportion of meta-analyses achieved a sufficient power (≥0.8) were estimated.

Results

We identified 4,177 meta-analyses. The median power to detect 10%, 30%, and 50% RRR were 0.06 (interquartile range [IQR]: 0.05 to 0.06), 0.08 (IQR: 0.06 to 0.15), and 0.17 (IQR: 0.10 to 0.42), respectively); the corresponding proportion of meta-analyses that reached sufficient power were 0.32%, 3.68%, and 11.81%. Meta-analyses incorporating data from more studies had higher probability to achieve a sufficient power (rate ratio = 2.49, 95% CI: 1.76, 3.52, P < 0.001).

Conclusion

Most of the meta-analyses of rare events in Cochrane systematic reviews were underpowered. Future meta-analysis of rare events should report the power of the results to support informative conclusions.

Other Information

Published in: Journal of Clinical Epidemiology
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
See article on publisher's website: https://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jclinepi.2020.11.017

Funding

Open Access funding provided by the Qatar National Library

History

Language

  • English

Publisher

Elsevier

Publication Year

  • 2020

License statement

This Item is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

Institution affiliated with

  • Qatar University
  • Qatar University Health - QU
  • College of Medicine - QU HEALTH

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