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Meta-analysis of Gaussian individual patient data: two-stage or not two-stage?

Morris, TP; Fisher, DJ; Kenward, MG; Carpenter, JR; (2018) Meta-analysis of Gaussian individual patient data: two-stage or not two-stage? Statistics in Medicine , 37 (9) pp. 1419-1438. 10.1002/sim.7589. Green open access

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Abstract

Quantitative evidence synthesis through meta-analysis is central to evidence-based medicine. For well-documented reasons, the meta-analysis of individual patient data is held in higher regard than aggregate data. With access to individual patient data, the analysis is not restricted to a "two-stage" approach (combining estimates and standard errors) but can estimate parameters of interest by fitting a single model to all of the data, a so-called "one-stage" analysis. There has been debate about the merits of one- and two-stage analysis. Arguments for one-stage analysis have typically noted that a wider range of models can be fitted and overall estimates may be more precise. The two-stage side has emphasised that the models that can be fitted in two stages are sufficient to answer the relevant questions, with less scope for mistakes because there are fewer modelling choices to be made in the two-stage approach. For Gaussian data, we consider the statistical arguments for flexibility and precision in small-sample settings. Regarding flexibility, several of the models that can be fitted only in one stage may not be of serious interest to most meta-analysis practitioners. Regarding precision, we consider fixed- and random-effects meta-analysis and see that, for a model making certain assumptions, the number of stages used to fit this model is irrelevant; the precision will be approximately equal. Meta-analysts should choose modelling assumptions carefully. Sometimes relevant models can only be fitted in one stage. Otherwise, meta-analysts are free to use whichever procedure is most convenient to fit the identified model.

Type: Article
Title: Meta-analysis of Gaussian individual patient data: two-stage or not two-stage?
Location: England
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1002/sim.7589
Publisher version: http://doi.org/10.1002/sim.7589
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © 2018 The Authors. Statistics in Medicine Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Keywords: individual-patient data, meta-analysis, one-stage, two-stage
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Inst of Clinical Trials and Methodology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Inst of Clinical Trials and Methodology > MRC Clinical Trials Unit at UCL
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10042148
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