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I would like to conduct a meta-analysis, and later a meta-regression, of estimated prevalence rates in 40 observational studies. I'd like to know: a) what the true prevalence rate is likely to be b) whether any of five variations between studies and settings influence the estimated prevalence rate.

Typically, texts on meta-analysis assume that the studies under analysis are clinical trials or similar experimental designs. Discussions are almost always couched in terms of effect sizes. However, I am looking to analyse a proportion of the population, not the effect of a treatment. As a newcomer to meta-analysis, there appears to be little methodological guidance on conducting meta-analysis of observational studies of prevalence rates.

Can I conduct the analyses described above? Can anyone recommend a text for study that covers observational studies of prevalence rates?

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A day in the library resulted in the discovery of:

Alexander J. Sutton, Keith R. Abrams, David R Jones, Trevor A. Sheldon and Fujian Song (2000). Methods for Meta-Analysis in Medical Research. Wiley: London.

That text treats synthesis observation studies in Chapters 2 and 16.

A somewhat outdated exposition can be found in:

Greenland, S. (1987). QUANTITATIVE METHODS IN THE REVIEW OF EPIDEMIOLOGIC LITERATURE. Epidemiologic Reviews, 9(1), 1–30.

Methods for Meta-Analysis in Medical Research

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