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Publication Detail
Emergent approaches to the meta-analysis of multiple heterogeneous complex interventions
  • Publication Type:
    Journal article
  • Authors:
    Melendez-Torres GJ, Bonell C, Thomas J
  • Publication date:
  • Journal:
    BMC Medical Research Methodology
  • Volume:
  • Article number:
  • Status:
  • Print ISSN:
  • Language:
  • Keywords:
    Systematic review, Complex interventions, Meta-analysis, Multiple interventions meta-analysis, Network meta-analysis
  • Notes:
    © Melendez-Torres et al. 2015 This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly credited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.
BACKGROUND: Multiple interventions meta-analysis has been recommended in the methodological literature as a tool for evidence synthesis when a heterogeneous set of interventions is included in the same review—and, more recently, when a heterogeneous set of complex interventions is included. However, there is little guidance on the use of this method with complex interventions. This article suggests two approaches to model complexity and heterogeneity through this method. DISCUSSION: ‘Clinically meaningful units’ groups interventions by modality or similar theory of change, whereas ‘components and dismantling’ separates out interventions into combinations of components and either groups interventions by the combination of components they demonstrate or extracts effects for each identified component and, possibly, interactions between components. Future work in systematic review methodology should aim to understand how to develop taxonomies of components or theories of change that are internally relevant to the studies in these multiple interventions meta-analyses. SUMMARY: Despite little meaningful prior guidance to its use in this context, multiple interventions meta-analysis has the potential to be a useful tool for synthesising heterogeneous sets of complex interventions. Researchers should choose an approach in accordance with their specific aims in their systematic review.
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