Finding and Understanding Evidence-Based Practice and Research

What is a Meta-Analysis?

"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. 

Find 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: Publication Type Filter


CINAHL and Medline 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 database you want to search through the links above. You will be taken directly to the advanced search page. Enter your keyword (s) into the search boxes. 

2. Scroll down to the Limit Your Results section. This is where you can add filters 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.

Meta Analysis publication type limiter in CINAHL and Medline

PubMed: Meta-Analysis Filter

To find a Meta-Analysis in PubMed, follow the steps below:

1. Enter the database through the link above.

2. Search your topic by entering your keywords 

Once you have your results, add the Meta-Analysis filter using the article type options on the left hand side of the page.  

Meta-Analysis article type limiter in PubMed

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

Example of a Meta-Analysis


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