A sensitivity analysis for publication bias in systematic reviews

Stat Methods Med Res. 2001 Aug;10(4):251-65. doi: 10.1177/096228020101000402.


There is no simple method of correcting for publication bias in systematic reviews. We suggest a sensitivity analysis in which different patterns of selection bias can be tested against the fit to the funnel plot. Publication bias leads to lower values, and greater uncertainty, in treatment effect estimates. Two examples are discussed. An appendix lists the S-plus code needed for carrying out the analysis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antibiotic Prophylaxis / standards
  • Coronary Disease / complications
  • Humans
  • Meta-Analysis as Topic*
  • Publication Bias*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Research
  • Sensitivity and Specificity*
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution / adverse effects
  • United Kingdom


  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution