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In a recent Statistics in Medicine paper, Warn, Thompson and Spiegelhalter (WTS) made a comparison between the Bayesian approach to the meta-analysis of binary outcomes and a popular Classical approach that uses summary (two-stage) techniques. They included approximate summary (two-stage) Bayesian techniques in their comparisons in an attempt undoubtedly to make the comparison less unfair. But, as this letter will argue, there are techniques from the Classical approach that are closer-those based directly on the likelihood-and they failed to make comparisons with these. Here the differences between Bayesian and Classical approaches in meta-analysis applications reside solely in how the likelihood functions are converted into either credibility intervals or confidence intervals. Both summarize, contrast and combine data using likelihood functions. Conflating what Bayes actually offers to meta-analysts-a means of converting likelihood functions to credibility intervals-with the use of likelihood functions themselves to summarize, contrast and combine studies is at best misleading.

Original publication

DOI

10.1002/sim.2115

Type

Journal

Stat Med

Publication Date

15/09/2005

Volume

24

Pages

2733 - 2742

Keywords

Bayes Theorem, Humans, Likelihood Functions, Meta-Analysis as Topic, Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic, Risk