Table 1

Proposed items to be used for reporting methodology research, adapted from the PRISMA Checklist (

Section/topicProposed item to be used in methodology research
 TitleIdentify the report as a meta-epidemiologic study.
 Structured summaryProvide a structured summary that includes the background of the topic, goal of the study, data sources, method of data selection, appraisal and synthesis methods, results, limitations, conclusions and implications of key findings.
 RationaleDescribe the rationale for the meta-epidemiological study in the context of what is already known.
 ObjectivesProvide an explicit statement of the goal of the meta-epidemiological study and the hypothesis being empirically tested.
 ProtocolIndicate if a protocol exists, if and where it can be accessed (eg, Web address). Registration of a protocol is not mandatory.
 Eligibility criteriaSpecify study characteristics used as criteria for eligibility with a rationale.
 Information sourcesDescribe all information sources (eg, databases with dates of coverage, contact with experts to identify additional studies, Internet searches) and search date.
 SearchPresent full electronic search strategy for at least one database, including any limits used, such that it could be repeated. Search is commonly not driven by a clinical question.
 Study selectionDescribe the process for selecting studies for inclusion (ie, how many reviewers selected studies, reviewing in duplicate or by single individuals).
 Data collection processDescribe method of data extraction from reports (eg, piloted forms, independently, in duplicate) and any processes used for manipulating data or obtaining and confirming data from investigators.
 Data itemsList and define all variables for which data were sought and any assumptions and imputations made.
 Risk of bias in individual studiesIf risk of bias assessment of individual studies was relevant to the analysis, describe the items used and how this information is to be used during data synthesis.
 Summary measuresState the principal summary measures (eg, ratio of risk ratios, difference in means) and explain its meaning and direction to readers.
 Synthesis of resultsDescribe the statistical or descriptive methods of synthesis including measures of consistency if relevant. If applicable, describe the development of statistical or simulation modelling based on theoretical background. Describe and justify assumptions and computational approximations. Describe methods of additional analyses (eg, sensitivity or subgroup analyses, meta-regression), if done, indicating which were prespecified.
 Study selectionGive numbers of studies assessed for eligibility and included in the study, with reasons for exclusions at each stage, ideally with a flow diagram. Present a measure of inter-reviewer agreement (eg, kappa statistic).
 Study characteristicsFor each study, present characteristics for which data were extracted and provide the citations. Clinical characteristics may not always be relevant.
 Risk of bias within studiesIf risk of bias assessment of individual studies was used in the meta-epidemiological analysis, report risk of bias indicators of each study to allow replication of findings.
 Results of individual studiesPresent data elements used in the meta-epidemiological analysis from each study (results of clinical outcomes may not be relevant).
 Synthesis of resultsPresent results of statistical analysis done, including measures of precision and measures of consistency. Present validity of assumptions and fit of statistical or simulation modelling, if applicable.
 Additional analysisGive results of additional analyses, if done (eg, sensitivity or subgroup analyses, meta-regression).
 Summary of evidenceSummarise the main findings and compare them with existing knowledge about the topic. The quality of evidence may not be relevant; however, investigators should describe their certainty in the results to readers.
 LimitationsDiscuss limitations at research methodology level (eg, likelihood of reporting or publication bias).
 ConclusionsProvide general interpretation of the results and implications for future research. Provide any plausible impact on clinical practice.
 FundingDescribe sources of funding for the methodology research and role of funders.