Exercise: Prophylactic administration of parenteral steroids, answer 8

Question 8: Is there evidence of statistical heterogeneity in Figure 2?

Suggested answer:

No, there is little evidence of statistical heterogeneity.

There is no pair of confidence intervals which does not overlap, so it would be quite feasible for there to be a common odds ratio with which all the studies would be consistent. The test for heterogenity has P=0.3, which is nowhere near significant. Hence there is little evidence of heterogeneity.

However, the numbers of patients re-intubated is quite small, zero in two groups, and there is not a lot of information. As there is clear clinical heterogeneity, we might want to be cautious here and treat the studies as heterogenous anyway.

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