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Meta-analysis of prevalence
  1. Jan J Barendregt1,
  2. Suhail A Doi1,
  3. Yong Yi Lee1,
  4. Rosana E Norman2,
  5. Theo Vos3
  1. 1University of Queensland, School of Population Health
  2. 2University of Queensland, School of Population Health and Queensland Children's Medical Research Institute
  3. 3University of Queensland, School of Population Health and University of Washington, Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation
  1. Correspondence to Dr Jan J Barendregt, School of Population Health, University of Queensland, Herston Rd, Herston, QLD 4006, Australia; j.barendregt{at}


Meta-analysis is a method to obtain a weighted average of results from various studies. In addition to pooling effect sizes, meta-analysis can also be used to estimate disease frequencies, such as incidence and prevalence. In this article we present methods for the meta-analysis of prevalence. We discuss the logit and double arcsine transformations to stabilise the variance. We note the special situation of multiple category prevalence, and propose solutions to the problems that arise. We describe the implementation of these methods in the MetaXL software, and present a simulation study and the example of multiple sclerosis from the Global Burden of Disease 2010 project. We conclude that the double arcsine transformation is preferred over the logit, and that the MetaXL implementation of multiple category prevalence is an improvement in the methodology of the meta-analysis of prevalence.

  • Meta Analysis
  • Statistics
  • Methodology

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