Issues in the meta-analysis of cluster randomized trials

Stat Med. 2002 Oct 15;21(19):2971-80. doi: 10.1002/sim.1301.


Meta-analyses involving the synthesis of evidence from cluster randomization trials are being increasingly reported. These analyses raise challenging methodologic issues beyond those raised by meta-analyses which include only individually randomized trials. In this paper we review and comment on a selected number of these issues, including problems of study heterogeneity, difficulties in estimating design effects from individual trials and the choice of statistical methods.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cluster Analysis*
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Humans
  • Meta-Analysis as Topic*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic / methods*
  • Research Design
  • Sample Size