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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Patricia Langenberg, PhD (University of Maryland at Baltimore School of Medicine)
Description: This book is a comprehensive review of meta-analysis, decision analysis, and cost-effectiveness analysis as quantitative methods for the synthesis of research information in medicine.
Purpose: The purpose is to describe methods of meta-analysis, decision analysis, and cost effectiveness analysis in order to summarize information from the literature in medicine. The objectives are particularly worthy in that the subjects are controversial and books on the topic have heretofore been primarily statistical or geared toward literature in fields other than medicine.
Audience: The book is very well written and accessible to nearly anyone in the medical field who would contemplate either reading about or carrying out meta-analysis, decision analysis, or cost-effectiveness analysis. The author is highly knowledgeable about her subject.
Features: All stages of meta-analysis are covered: data retrieval/collection, detection of bias, statistical analysis, exploration of heterogeneity. Many relevant examples from the field of medicine are cited and examples of the statistical methods are provided. More important, space is devoted to the difficulties of identifying the 'fugitive' studies that may introduce serious bias (publication bias) if not included, since they are more likely to have negative results. Decision analysis methods are also described, including identification of the problem and its components structuring decision trees, estimation of probabilities, and sensitivity analysis. Decision analysis is described as the cornerstone of cost effectiveness analysis with the addition of cost data, identification of outcomes, and choice of cost-benefit function.
Assessment: This book is very well written, easy to understand and apply, with excellent relevant examples. It is the most comprehensive and accessible book in this field.