A method for meta-analysis of epidemiological studies

Drug Intell Clin Pharm. 1988 Oct;22(10):813-24. doi: 10.1177/106002808802201021.


This article presents a stepwise approach for conducting a meta-analysis of epidemiological studies based on proposed guidelines. This systematic method is recommended for practitioners evaluating epidemiological studies in the literature to arrive at an overall quantitative estimate of the impact of a treatment. Bendectin is used as an illustrative example. Meta-analysts should establish a priori the purpose of the analysis and a complete protocol. This protocol should be adhered to, and all steps performed should be recorded in detail. To aid in developing such a protocol, we present methods the researcher can use to perform each of 22 steps in six major areas. The illustrative meta-analysis confirmed previous traditional narrative literature reviews that Bendectin is not related to teratogenic outcomes in humans. The overall summary odds ratio was 1.01 (chi 2 = 0.05, p = 0.815) with a 95 percent confidence interval of 0.66-1.55. When the studies were separated according to study type, the summary odds ratio for cohort studies was 0.95 with a 95 percent confidence interval of 0.62-1.45. For case-control studies, the summary odds ratio was 1.27 with a 95 percent confidence interval of 0.83-1.94. The corresponding chi-square values were not statistically significant at the p = 0.05 level.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antiemetics / adverse effects
  • Dicyclomine
  • Doxylamine / adverse effects
  • Drug Combinations / adverse effects
  • Epidemiologic Methods*
  • Humans
  • Meta-Analysis as Topic*
  • Pyridoxine / adverse effects
  • Research Design
  • Statistics as Topic
  • Teratogens


  • Antiemetics
  • Drug Combinations
  • Teratogens
  • dicyclomine, doxylamine, pyridoxine drug combination
  • Dicyclomine
  • Doxylamine
  • Pyridoxine