Academic journal article Indian Journal of Psychiatry

A Simple Rearrangement Can Improve Visual Understanding of a Forest Plot

Academic journal article Indian Journal of Psychiatry

A Simple Rearrangement Can Improve Visual Understanding of a Forest Plot

Article excerpt

Byline: Nilesh. Shah, Chittaranjan. Andrade

By tradition, Forest plots in meta-analyses usually present studies either in alphabetical order, byfirst author name, or in chronological order, by year of publication. Alphabetical ordering allows readers to quickly locate a study in the plot. Chronological ordering allows readers to identify the evolution of results across time. Most readers only cursorily glance at the individual study data, focusing, instead, upon the diamond at the bottom of the plot, which represents the summary statistic. This, in a way, is how it should be; after all, the entire purpose of the meta-analysis is to generate that summary statistic.

A discerning reader also looks at the effect size and confidence intervals of the individual studies in the plot. This information educates the reader about the extent to which each study influenced the summary statistic. The information is useful because different studies would have differed in methodological rigor, or merely in some important aspect of methodology, such as sample size or drug dose. An idea of how studies might have influenced the summary statistic could guide the reader in his interpretation of that summary statistic, and in the possible need for additional sensitivity analyses.

The conventional arrangement of studies in the Forest plot does not assist this discerning reader in his efforts. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.