An Empirical Bayes Method for Multivariate Meta-analysis with an Application in Clinical Trials

Commun Stat Theory Methods. 2014 Jul 29;43(16):3536-3551. doi: 10.1080/03610926.2012.700379.


We propose an empirical Bayes method for evaluating overall and study-specific treatment effects in multivariate meta-analysis with binary outcome. Instead of modeling transformed proportions or risks via commonly used multivariate general or generalized linear models, we directly model the risks without any transformation. The exact posterior distribution of the study-specific relative risk is derived. The hyperparameters in the posterior distribution can be inferred through an empirical Bayes procedure. As our method does not rely on the choice of transformation, it provides a flexible alternative to the existing methods and in addition, the correlation parameter can be intuitively interpreted as the correlation coefficient between risks.

Keywords: Bivariate beta-binomial model; Exact method; Hypergeometric function; Meta-analysis; Relative risk; Sarmanov family.