Prophylactic efficacy of probiotics on travelers' diarrhea: an adaptive meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials

Epidemiol Health. 2018:40:e2018043. doi: 10.4178/epih.e2018043. Epub 2018 Aug 29.


Objectives: The 2017 guideline for the prevention of travelers' diarrhea (TD) by the International Society of Travel Medicine suggested that 'there is insufficient evidence to recommend the use of commercially available prebiotics or probiotics to prevent or treat TD.' However, a meta-analysis published in 2007 reported significant efficacy of probiotics in the prevention of TD (summary relative risk [sRR], 0.85, 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.79 to 0.91). This study aimed to synthesize the efficacy of probiotics on TD by updating the meta-analysis of double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized human trials.

Methods: The search process was conducted by the adaptive meta-analysis method using the 'cited by' and 'similar articles' options provided by PubMed. The inclusion criteria were double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized human trials with hypotheses of probiotics as intervention and TD as an outcome. The adaptive meta-analysis was conducted using Stata software using the csi, metan, metafunnel, and metabias options.

Results: Eleven articles were selected for the meta-analysis. The sRR was 0.85 (95% CI, 0.79 to 0.91) and showed statistical significance. There was no heterogeneity (I-squared=28.4%) and no publication bias.

Conclusions: Probiotics showed statistically significant efficacy in the prevention of TD.

Keywords: Diarrhea; Meta-analysis; Probiotics; Randomized controlled trials.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Diarrhea / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Probiotics / therapeutic use*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Travel*
  • Treatment Outcome