Assessing heterogeneity in meta-analysis: Q statistic or I2 index?

Department of Basic Psychology & Methodology, University of Murcia, Murcia, Spain.
Psychological Methods (Impact Factor: 4.45). 07/2006; 11(2):193-206. DOI: 10.1037/1082-989X.11.2.193
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT In meta-analysis, the usual way of assessing whether a set of single studies is homogeneous is by means of the Q test. However, the Q test only informs meta-analysts about the presence versus the absence of heterogeneity, but it does not report on the extent of such heterogeneity. Recently, the I(2) index has been proposed to quantify the degree of heterogeneity in a meta-analysis. In this article, the performances of the Q test and the confidence interval around the I(2) index are compared by means of a Monte Carlo simulation. The results show the utility of the I(2) index as a complement to the Q test, although it has the same problems of power with a small number of studies.

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