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Meta-analysis using individual participant data from randomised trials: opportunities and limitations created by access to raw data

Rogozińska, E; Marlin, N; Thangaratinam, S; Khan, KS; Zamora, J; (2017) Meta-analysis using individual participant data from randomised trials: opportunities and limitations created by access to raw data. BMJ Evidence-Based Medicine , 22 (5) pp. 157-162. 10.1136/ebmed-2017-110775. Green open access

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Abstract

Meta-analysis based on individual participant data (IPD), often described as the 'gold standaard' for effectiveness evidence synthesis, is increasingly being deployed despite being more resource intensive than collating study-level results. Its professed virtues include the ability to incorporate unreported data and to standardise variables and their definitions across trials. In reality, the unreported data, although present in shared datasets, might still not be usable in the analysis. The characteristics of trial participants and their outcomes may be too diversely captured for harmonisation and too time and resource consuming to standardise. Embarking on an IPD meta-analysis can lead to unanticipated challenges which ought to be handled with pragmatism. The aim of this article is to discuss the opportunities created by access to IPD and the practical limitations placed on such meta-analyses, using an international IPD meta-analysis of trials on the effect of lifestyle interventions in pregnancy as an example. Despite the increasing uptake of IPD meta-analysis, they encounter old problems shared by other research methods. When embarking on IPD meta-analysis, it is essential to evaluate the trade-offs between the ambitions, and what is achievable due to constraints imposed by the condition of collected IPD. Furthermore, incorporation of aggregate data from trials where IPD was not available should be a mandatory sensitivity analysis that makes the evidence synthesis up-to-date.

Type: Article
Title: Meta-analysis using individual participant data from randomised trials: opportunities and limitations created by access to raw data
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1136/ebmed-2017-110775
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/ebmed-2017-110775
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
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
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/10075503
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