Ain't Necessarily So: Review and Critique of Recent Meta-Analyses of Behavioral Medicine Interventions in Health Psychology

Department of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, 3535 Market St., Room 676, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.
Health Psychology (Impact Factor: 3.59). 03/2010; 29(2):107-16. DOI: 10.1037/a0017633
Source: PubMed


We examined four meta-analyses of behavioral interventions for adults (Dixon, Keefe, Scipio, Perri, & Abernethy, 2007; Hoffman, Papas, Chatkoff, & Kerns, 2007; Irwin, Cole, & Nicassio, 2006; and Jacobsen, Donovan, Vadaparampil, & Small, 2007) that have appeared in the Evidence Based Treatment Reviews section of Health Psychology.
Narrative review.
We applied the following criteria to each meta-analysis: (1) whether each meta-analysis was described accurately, adequately, and transparently in the article; (2) whether there was an adequate attempt to deal with methodological quality of the original trials; (3) the extent to which the meta-analysis depended on small, underpowered studies; and (4) the extent to which the meta-analysis provided valid and useful evidence-based recommendations.
Across the four meta-analyses, we identified substantial problems with the transparency and completeness with which these meta-analyses were reported, as well as a dependence on small, underpowered trials of generally poor quality.
Results of our exercise raise questions about the clinical validity and utility of the conclusions of these meta-analyses. Results should serve as a wake up call to prospective authors, reviewers, and end-users of meta-analyses now appearing in the literature.

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Available from: James C Coyne
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