Identification of meta-analyses. The need for standard terminology

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Our efforts to identify published articles describing meta-analyses of clinical trials illustrate the need for standard terminology to facilitate retrieval. We found 119 articles describing meta-analyses and eligible for inclusion in MEDLINE, and yet when we searched MEDLINE, using strategies based on textwords and medical subject headings (MeSH), only 48% of the 119 articles were identified. Sixty-eight (57%) of the 119 articles contained at least one of the terms "meta-analysis", "pooling", or "overview" in the little or abstract. The importance of meta-analyses in the evaluation of medical treatments argues for more disciplined use of a specific term in order to facilitate identification of articles. The fact that the National Library of Medicine has started in 1989 to index articles describing meta-analyses using the MeSH META-ANALYSIS underscores this argument.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)52-66
Number of pages15
JournalControlled clinical trials
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1990


  • Meta-analysis
  • clinical trials
  • clinical trials overview
  • pooling of results
  • quantitative synthesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology


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