An exact method for meta-analysis of case-control and follow-up studies

Epidemiology. 2000 May;11(3):255-60. doi: 10.1097/00001648-200005000-00005.


In this paper, we describe an exact method for estimating a common relative risk across different epidemiologic study designs. The types of studies allowed by the method include case-control studies, follow-up studies with an internal comparison group, and follow-up studies with an external comparison group. Because the method is exact, sparseness of individual studies is not an issue. Those wishing to perform a meta-analysis of case-control studies and follow-up studies in which both the exposure and outcome are rare will find the method particularly useful. To allow one to perform the computations efficiently, we present a partial polynomial multiplication algorithm. We also describe a public-domain computer program that performs the necessary calculations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Case-Control Studies*
  • Follow-Up Studies*
  • Humans
  • Meta-Analysis as Topic*