Stories about: meta-study

Meta-analyses: Comparing apples to oranges

Photo: Dano/Flickr

When you get down to it, science, particularly in the clinical realm, is something of a numbers game. An experiment or study’s weight depends greatly on its size (how many patients took part, how many times the experiment was repeated, etc.). For any number of reasons, though, researchers may only be able to bring a few people into a study and collect limited data, restricting both the answers it can provide and the impact of those answers on the field. Such has been the case with autism, for example, where studies tend to be small and patient populations haven’t always been well defined.

But what if one could compare apples to oranges – or, at least, Golden Delicious to Cortlands – by creating one large “uberstudy,” merging the results of many small studies in ways that would allow comparisons among them to generate some level of consensus about a treatment or discovery?

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