case management, meta-analysis, quantitative systematic review



  1. Throckmorton, Terry PhD, RN
  2. Windle, Pamela E. MS, RN, NE-BC, CPAN, CAPA, FAAN


Objectives: This article aims to (1) describe the steps in the development of a meta-analysis, (2) discuss the use of meta-analysis in developing an evidence base for case management practice, and (3) provide some basic guidelines for evaluating the meta-analysis.


Primary practice settings: Evidence-based practice (EBP) is a mandate for all healthcare professionals, regardless of setting. Although many institutions lack library resources, systematic reviews and meta-analyses are available from multiple sites on the Internet.


Findings/conclusions: EBP is an essential element for professionals in the provision of safe, quality patient care. However, most healthcare professionals, including case managers, have little time to complete the extensive literature reviews and analyses required for evidence-based practice. Literature reviews completed by professional teams provide a solution for caregivers in their efforts to base practice on the best evidence. This article describes the quantitative literature review, meta-analysis, including definitions of terms, a description of the process, sources of meta-analyses, and basic guidelines for determining the quality of the review and applicability of the results to practice.


Implications for case management: Meta-analyses can provide access to the latest evidence for case managers with little time but great need for the most effective approaches to managing care. Meta-analyses provide a statistical analysis of multiple studies pooled to provide the most definitive interpretation of the data. Correctly analyzed and interpreted, meta-analyses can provide a sound basis for management of patient transitions from hospital to home and community. Meta-analyses describing the impact of various treatments allow the case manager to better prepare the patient and family for the healthcare issues the patient may face in recovering from a diagnosis and/or treatment.