Systematic review and meta-analysis of diagnostic and prognostic studies: a tutorial

Arq Bras Cardiol. 2009 Mar;92(3):229-38, 235-45. doi: 10.1590/s0066-782x2009000300013.
[Article in English, Spanish]


Systematic reviews with meta-analysis of studies on diagnostic tests or prognostic factors are research tools that are still being developed. The objective of the present paper is to describe the methodology of systematic review and meta-analysis of this type of studies, step by step. A literature review on the subject was made, the recommendations were compiled and the paper was organized in: a) Introduction, b) Details on the eight steps to be followed, c) Form of publication of a systematic review with meta-analysis, and d) Conclusion. The systematic review methods were thoroughly described with a critical analysis of the methods of statistical compilation of results, with emphasis on the utilization of the Summary Receiver Operator Characteristic curve. References for the details of each statistical technique used were provided in the meta-analysis. We concluded that systematic reviews with meta-analysis of diagnostic tests or prognostic factors are useful in data compilation of various studies on the same subject, since they reduce biases and increase the statistical power of the primary research.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Diagnosis*
  • Humans
  • Meta-Analysis as Topic*
  • Models, Statistical
  • Prognosis*
  • Research Design
  • Review Literature as Topic*