Meta-Analysis in the Mirror of Its Quotations: Science, Scepticism, Scorn, and Sarcasm

Franz H. Messerli MD; Sripal Bangalore; Adrian W. Messerli


Eur Heart J. 2019;40(40):3290-3291. 

In This Article

Take-home Message

This day and age studies have become increasingly complex and the results often are difficult to grasp by practicing physicians. A meta-analysis, as a study of the studies, often merely increases complexity to the extent that it may become incomprehensible for the practicing physician. Yet any take home message should be a simple, pellucid distillate that will prove to be informative to professors, physicians, patients and barmaids alike.

The most common reason to perform a meta-analysis is to evaluate the efficacy of medical treatment. Since it provides us with 'results of implausible precision'[1] temptation is great to swiftly apply these results to patient care and adapt the medical treatment accordingly. On rare occasions, such urgency may be permissible. We, however, suggest a more cautious approach and to consider a simple litmus test, which was eloquently formulated by Hans Jürgen Eyseneck 25 years ago: 'If a medical treatment has an effect so recondite and obscure as to require meta-analysis to establish it, I would not be happy to have it used on me'.[16]