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publication bias, meta-analysis



  1. Soeken, Karen L.
  2. Sripusanapan, Acharaporn


Background: Although publication bias is a concern when using meta-analysis, techniques for assessing for its potential appear to be underused in nursing.


Objectives: To demonstrate several methods, both graphical and statistical, of assessing for publication bias.


Methods: Four methods are described and demonstrated, ranging from the familiar fail-safe N to the trim-and-fill method, using the same contrived data set.


Results: Methods vary in their conclusion about the presence of potential publication bias in the example presented. Some limitations of the methods are noted to assist meta-analysts in determining which to consider using.


Conclusion: Given that publication bias can affect the validity of meta-analytic studies, researchers are encouraged to use more than one method to assess for bias so that clinicians and decision-makers can have the best possible information available.