Data-based predictive distributions for between-study heterogeneity

In small meta-analyses, a conventional random-effects meta-analysis is problematic because between-study heterogeneity is imprecisely estimated, and this imprecision is not taken into account. A Bayesian meta-analysis allows researchers to incorporate external evidence on the likely extent of between-study heterogeneity in their particular research setting.

Cochrane Scientific Committee recommendation (see the meeting minutes and supporting document from June 2018):
The Committee recommends that Cochrane Reviewers are encouraged to add Bayesian meta-analysis alongside the traditional techniques included in RevMan to supplement and improve their review. Particularly where there is a very high or low heterogeneity estimate. Therefore, in these situations an additional Bayesian analysis will have the greatest impact. This will be included in the new updated Handbook chapter.

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