Introduction to Systematic Reviews and Meta-analysis

An online short course

This course aims to introduce participants to the methodology of systematic reviews and meta-analysis.

Course dates

Due to demand this standalone course will run twice:

13 - 16 December 2021 (BOOKINGS CLOSED)
7 - 10 June 2022
Course fee £880
Course structure Taught over 4 consecutive full days.
Course Organisers Professor Julian Higgins, Dr Clare French & Dr Jelena Savović

Prerequisites

Please ensure you meet the following prerequisites before booking:

Knowledge Participants should have knowledge of statistical methods to the level of our Introduction to Statistics course. A basic appreciation of research designs (to the level of our Introduction to Epidemiology course) would be helpful. Practical session will include implementation of meta-analysis methods in computer software, and either basic knowledge of Stata or familiarity with R would be helpful for this. Students without experience in either will undertake practicals using Stata, and they must have this installed before the start of the course.
Software Participants must either (i) have access to a computer on which Stata* is pre-installed (version 15 or later) OR (ii) be a regular R user.
*Internal University of Bristol participants are given access to Stata. Go to Stata Installation Instructions (internal only) for help setting it up before the start of the course. External participants are responsible for providing their own access to Stata.

Course format

This 4-day course will be online and consist of a mixture of live and pre-recorded lectures, with exercises for participants to complete themselves and tutor-facilitated small group sessions. It is full time over the four days.

Course objectives

By the end of the course participants should be able to:

  • explain the need for systematic reviews and meta-analyses;
  • list the important aspects of a systematic review;
  • perform a comprehensive search for relevant literature;
  • appreciate the role of tools to assess risk of bias, including their application to randomised controlled trials;
  • explain the basic methods of meta-analysis;
  • use Stata or R software to perform a basic meta-analysis;
  • describe issues in conducting systematic reviews of observational studies;
  • summarise the findings of a systematic review or meta-analysis;
  • evaluate the quality of a systematic review.

Who the course is intended for

This course is designed for clinicians, researchers, public health specialists and other health care professionals who want to perform and/or evaluate systematic reviews and meta-analyses. The course predominantly focuses on systematic reviews of healthcare interventions, although much of the material translates to systematic reviews in other areas. Sessions examine issues in systematic reviews and meta-analyses of observational studies.

Participants should have knowledge of statistical methods to the level of our Introduction to Statistics course. A basic appreciation of research designs (to the level of our Introduction to Epidemiology course) would be helpful. Practical session will include implementation of meta-analysis methods in computer software, and either basic knowledge of Stata or familiarity with R would be helpful for this. Students without experience in either will undertake practicals using Stata, and they must have this installed before the start of the course.

Course outline

  1. Why we need systematic reviews and meta-analyses.
  2. The systematic review process.
  3. Identifying relevant studies.
  4. Selecting studies and data extraction.
  5. Types of data and effect sizes.
  6. Assessing risk of bias in primary studies.
  7. Statistical methods for meta-analysis of dichotomous and numerical (continuous) outcomes.
  8. Explaining heterogeneity: subgroup analysis and meta-regression.
  9. Meta-analysis and meta-regression in Stata or R.
  10. Understanding, investigating and dealing with bias in systematic reviews.
  11. Systematic reviews and meta-analysis of observational studies.
  12. Assessing certainty of the evidence in a systematic review.
  13. Reporting a systematic review.
  14. Critical appraisal of a systematic review.

B course (June 2022) - Bookings Open

Bookings for the A course (December 2021) have now closed.

Book a short course

General bookings for all available 2021/22 short courses are open.

You must register or re-confirm your existing account before booking a course. 

The material was very interesting. The course was well organized. I liked that the content was easy to understand for someone without a medical background. The last exercise going through a meta analysis with a tutor was very helpful.

Course feedback, December 2021

It was very useful and all the speakers clearly highly knowledgeable on the topics

Course feedback, December 2021
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