A general framework for the use of logistic regression models in meta-analysis

Stat Methods Med Res. 2016 Dec;25(6):2858-2877. doi: 10.1177/0962280214534409. Epub 2014 May 12.


Where individual participant data are available for every randomised trial in a meta-analysis of dichotomous event outcomes, "one-stage" random-effects logistic regression models have been proposed as a way to analyse these data. Such models can also be used even when individual participant data are not available and we have only summary contingency table data. One benefit of this one-stage regression model over conventional meta-analysis methods is that it maximises the correct binomial likelihood for the data and so does not require the common assumption that effect estimates are normally distributed. A second benefit of using this model is that it may be applied, with only minor modification, in a range of meta-analytic scenarios, including meta-regression, network meta-analyses and meta-analyses of diagnostic test accuracy. This single model can potentially replace the variety of often complex methods used in these areas. This paper considers, with a range of meta-analysis examples, how random-effects logistic regression models may be used in a number of different types of meta-analyses. This one-stage approach is compared with widely used meta-analysis methods including Bayesian network meta-analysis and the bivariate and hierarchical summary receiver operating characteristic (ROC) models for meta-analyses of diagnostic test accuracy.

Keywords: diagnostic tests; logistic regression; meta-analysis; network analysis; one-stage models.

MeSH terms

  • BCG Vaccine
  • Bayes Theorem
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / chemically induced
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / diagnosis
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology
  • Dementia / diagnosis
  • Diagnostic Tests, Routine / standards*
  • Female
  • Fibrosis / drug therapy
  • Hemorrhage
  • Hormone Replacement Therapy / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models*
  • Meta-Analysis as Topic*
  • ROC Curve


  • BCG Vaccine