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Patient Safety in Surgery

, 3:16

First Online: 22 July 2009Received: 12 May 2009Accepted: 22 July 2009


Meta-analyses are an essential tool of clinical research. Meta-analyses of individual randomized controlled trials frequently constitute the highest possible level of scientific evidence for a given research question and allow surgeons to rapidly gain a comprehensive understanding of an important clinical issue. Moreover, meta-analyses often serve as cornerstones for evidence-based surgery, treatment guidelines, and knowledge transfer. Given the importance of meta-analyses to the medical and surgical knowledge base, it is of cardinal importance that surgeons have a basic grasp of the principles that guide a high-quality meta-analysis, and be able to weigh objectively the advantages and potential pitfalls of this clinical research tool. Unfortunately, surgeons are often ill-prepared to successfully conduct, critically appraise, and correctly interpret meta-analyses. The objective of this educational review is to provide surgeons with a brief introductory overview of the knowledge and skills required for understanding and critically appraising surgical meta-analyses as well as assessing their implications for their own surgical practice.

Electronic supplementary materialThe online version of this article doi:10.1186-1754-9493-3-16 contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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Autor: Nathan Lawrentschuk - Jonathan McCall - Ulrich Güller


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