Research Synthesis Methods

GOSH – a graphical display of study heterogeneity

Journal Article

Estimates from individual studies included in a meta‐analysis often are not in agreement, giving rise to statistical heterogeneity. In such cases, exploration of the causes of heterogeneity can advance knowledge by formulating novel hypotheses. We present a new method for visualizing between‐study heterogeneity using combinatorial meta‐analysis. The method is based on performing separate meta‐analyses on all possible subsets of studies in a meta‐analysis. We use the summary effect sizes and other statistics produced by the all‐subsets meta‐analyses to generate graphs that can be used to investigate heterogeneity, identify influential studies, and explore subgroup effects. This graphical approach complements alternative graphical explorations of data. We apply the method to numerous biomedical examples, to allow readers to develop intuition on the interpretation of the all‐subsets graphical display. The proposed graphical approach may be useful for exploratory data analysis in systematic reviews. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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Published features on are checked for statistical accuracy by a panel from the European Network for Business and Industrial Statistics (ENBIS)   to whom Wiley and express their gratitude. This panel are: Ron Kenett, David Steinberg, Shirley Coleman, Irena Ograjenšek, Fabrizio Ruggeri, Rainer Göb, Philippe Castagliola, Xavier Tort-Martorell, Bart De Ketelaere, Antonio Pievatolo, Martina Vandebroek, Lance Mitchell, Gilbert Saporta, Helmut Waldl and Stelios Psarakis.