Meta-analyses of animal studies: an introduction of a valuable instrument to further improve healthcare
SourceIlar Journal, 55, 3, (2014), pp. 418-26
Article / Letter to editor
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Central Animal Laboratory
SubjectRadboudumc 10: Reconstructive and regenerative medicine RIHS: Radboud Institute for Health Sciences; Radboudumc 15: Urological cancers RIHS: Radboud Institute for Health Sciences; Radboudumc 17: Women's cancers RIHS: Radboud Institute for Health Sciences; Radboudumc 2: Cancer development and immune defence RIHS: Radboud Institute for Health Sciences
In research aimed at improving human health care, animal studies still play a crucial role, despite political and scientific efforts to reduce preclinical experimentation in laboratory animals. In animal studies, the results and their interpretation are not always straightforward, as no single study is executed perfectly in all steps. There are several possible sources of bias, and many animal studies are replicates of studies conducted previously. Use of meta-analysis to combine the results of studies may lead to more reliable conclusions and a reduction of unnecessary duplication of animal studies. In addition, due to the more exploratory nature of animal studies as compared to clinical trials, meta-analyses of animal studies have greater potential in exploring possible sources of heterogeneity. There is an abundance of literature on how to perform meta-analyses on clinical data. Animal studies, however, differ from clinical studies in some aspects, such as the diversity of animal species studied, experimental design, and study characteristics. In this paper, we will discuss the main principles and practices for meta-analyses of experimental animal studies.
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