Quality of Meta-Analyses for Randomized Trials in the Field of Hypertension: an Updated and Improved Systematic Review

George C. Roush, Fiorella Perez, Ramy Abdelfattah, Andrew Prindle, Elie Jean, Tanveer Singh, John B. Kostis, William J. Kostis, William J. Elliott, Jesse A. Berlin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Publications of hypertension-related meta-analyses (MAs) have increased exponentially in the past 25 years and now average 8/month. Theoretically, this is facilitating evidence-based management of patients. However, some practitioners and authors of guidelines have questioned the quality of published MAs. By extending a prior review, we have assessed the quality of 212 hypertension-related meta-analyses over 5 years based on systematically searching three computerized libraries. Seventeen criteria grouped into four domains of quality yielded the following results: (1) Assessment of trial quality was accomplished in 89% of MAs, and 38% analyzed trials in subgroups of trial quality where appropriate. (2) All three measures of heterogeneity (I2, tau, and P for heterogeneity) were reported in 36%, reflecting the failure to report tau, the standard deviation of the main effect. (3) Publication bias was assessed in 75%, and 43% of MAs used a statistical test for publication bias. (4) Regarding transparency, 9 to 31% of MAs reported problems in the previous three domains in the article’s abstract. Journal impact factor reporting the MAs declined significantly over 5 years. The percent with criteria of quality in a MA was modestly correlated with journal impact factor (R2 = 0.05, P = 0.001). False-positive results from inappropriate application of the DerSimonian-Laird model affected 25% of articles, which reported these false positives in the article’s abstract in 72%. No more than 25% of MAs had 67% or more of the criteria of quality. In conclusion, skepticism of hypertension-related MAs is justified, but their quality can be readily corrected.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number71
JournalCurrent Hypertension Reports
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Internal Medicine


  • Blood pressure
  • Hypertension
  • Meta-analysis as topic
  • Randomized controlled trials (publication type)
  • Review (publication type)
  • Systematic review


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