Not available in 2017/18
SA4M9E      Half Unit
Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

This information is for the 2017/18 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr. Huseyin Naci


A core course available only for students taking MSc in Health Economics, Outcomes and Management in Cardiovascular Sciences

Course content

Systematic review and meta-analysis methods are increasingly used to evaluate the relative benefits and harms of healthcare interventions. A broad range of decision making bodies across the health care sector (including health technology assessment bodies, drug and medical device licensing agencies, biopharmaceutical industry, and hospitals) need experts equipped with the methods of reviewing and synthesizing the existing body of evidence.

This course will be focused on the principles of reviewing and synthesizing the existing body of literature. The course will first provide the rationale for adopting a systematic approach for evidence review and synthesis. It will then equip students with the methods to undertake risk of bias assessments of individual randomized controlled trials and also collections of randomized controlled trials. In addition to providing an overview of methods for quantitatively synthesizing multiple randomized controlled trials in meta-analysis, the course will present the opportunities and challenges of using evidence for decision-making in health care.

Learning outcomes:

  • Describe the rationale for adopting a systematic approach to literature review
  • Define the principal threats to validity both in individual randomized controlled trials and collections of randomized controlled trials
  • Critically evaluate the internal validity of randomized controlled trials
  • Assess heterogeneity in a collection of randomized controlled trials
  • Design and perform a systematic review and meta-analysis evaluating a health care intervention in a group setting
  • Describe the opportunities and challenges of using systematic review and meta-analysis findings for decision making


20 hours of seminars and 4 hours of computer workshops in the ST.

Formative coursework

  • Course convener will provide feedback on group presentations on the last day of the in-person teaching session
  • Course convener will also provide written feedback on project outlines. 

Indicative reading

Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Inter ventions (version 5.1.0, updated March 2011).

Institute of Medicine. Finding what works in health care: standards for systematic reviews. 23 March 2011.

Sutton AJ et al. Methods for Meta-analysis in Medical Research. Wiley, Chichester, UK, 2000.

Cook DJ. Systematic reviews: synthesis of best evidence for clinical decisions. Annals of internal medicine 1997;126(5):376–80.

Jansen JP et al. Is network meta-analysis as valid as standard pair wise meta- analysis? It all depends on the distribution of effect modifiers. BMC medicine 2013;11(1):159.

Jansen JP et al. Interpreting indirect treatment comparisons and network meta- analysis for health-care decision making: report of the ISPOR Task Force on Indirect Treatment Comparisons Good Research Practices: part 1. Value Health 2011;14(4):417–28.


Research project (100%) in the ST.

Student performance results

(2015/16 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 16.7
Merit 47.2
Pass 27.8
Fail 8.3

Key facts

Department: Social Policy

Total students 2016/17: 42

Average class size 2016/17: Unavailable

Controlled access 2016/17: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Application of numeracy skills
  • Commercial awareness
  • Specialist skills

Course survey results

(2015/16 combined)

1 = "best" score, 5 = "worst" score

The scores below are average responses.

Response rate: 74%



Reading list (Q2.1)


Materials (Q2.3)


Course satisfied (Q2.4)


Lectures (Q2.5)


Integration (Q2.6)


Contact (Q2.7)


Feedback (Q2.8)


Recommend (Q2.9)