How meta-analysis increases statistical power

Psychol Methods. 2003 Sep;8(3):243-53. doi: 10.1037/1082-989X.8.3.243.


One of the most frequently cited reasons for conducting a meta-analysis is the increase in statistical power that it affords a reviewer. This article demonstrates that fixed-effects meta-analysis increases statistical power by reducing the standard error of the weighted average effect size (T.) and, in so doing, shrinks the confidence interval around T.. Small confidence intervals make it more likely for reviewers to detect nonzero population effects, thereby increasing statistical power. Smaller confidence intervals also represent increased precision of the estimated population effect size. Computational examples are provided for 3 effect-size indices: d (standardized mean difference), Pearson's r, and odds ratios. Random-effects meta-analyses also may show increased statistical power and a smaller standard error of the weighted average effect size. However, the authors demonstrate that increasing the number of studies in a random-effects meta-analysis does not always increase statistical power.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Meta-Analysis as Topic*
  • Models, Statistical*