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Finding, Understanding and Conducting Research Studies


"Meta-analysis (quantitative overview) is a systematic review that employs statistical methods to combine and summarize the results of several trials. Well-conducted meta-analyses are the best method of summarizing all available unbiased evidence on the relative effects of treatment" (Brooten, 2017).

Meta-analyses and systematic reviews are often conducted together with the meta-analysis being the statistical testing carried out over the articles selected for the systematic review. 

Finding a Meta Analysis

As with any type of study, one thing that you can do to any of your searches to help narrow down to a meta-analysis is to add the type of study as a keyword in your search string. See example below:

pain management AND meta-analysis

There are also things that you can do in specific databases that can help you limit to these articles as shown below.

CINAHL and Medline Complete: Publication Type Limiter


CINAHL Complete and Medline Complete are databases that allow you to limit your search results to meta-analyses only. 

To find meta-analyses in CINAHL or Medline, follow the steps below:

  1. Enter the databases through the links above. This will take you directly to the advanced search page for both of these databases.
  2. Scroll down to the Limit Your Results section. This is where you can add limits to your search to tell the database that you only want articles that fit specific criteria. 
  3. Locate the Publication Type menu, and select Meta Analysis.


PubMed: Clinical Queries Search

To find systematic reviews and meta-analyses in PubMed, follow the steps below:

  1. Enter the database through the link above.
  2. Select Clinical Queries under the Find section.
  3. Search your topic by entering your keywords into the search box and hitting search. 
  4. Results will be provided in three different columns. The middle column will give systematic review and meta-analysis results. Click on the See All link to see all the results.


Note! With any of these searches, you will need to limit to full text to get articles immediately available to you.


Brooten, D. (2017). Clinical trials. In J. Fitzpatrick (Ed.), Encyclopedia of nursing research (4th ed.). Springer Publishing Company.

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