4 February - 5 April 2019

The lectures, tutorials and practicals are planned on Fridays.


This module deals with the full scope of principles concepts and methods of systematic literature reviewing, including meta-analysis.

Course coordinator

Anke Wesselius, PhD, Department of Complex Genetics
T +31 (0)43-3881274




Regular master’s fee or €1752  (non-master student)


EPI4928 - Systematic Literature Review and Meta-analysis

Both for epidemiological and health care researchers and for professionals who are expected to interpret and apply the results of scientific research, it is vital to be able to summarize and review the relevant literature in one’s own domain of interest in a systematic and checkable way. Nowadays a systematic literature review is the point of departure of almost every new research initiative, and upon completion the study results will often be incorporated in an updated version of the review. Systematic reviews are at the heart of evidence-based medicine and public health.

This module deals with the full scope of principles, concepts and methods of systematic literature reviewing, including meta-analysis (statistical pooling of outcomes of included component studies). By means of lectures, tutorial group meetings, work lectures and skills training sessions attention will be paid to issues like the various approaches to reviewing the literature; strengths and limitations of the systematic literature review; reviews dealing with various types of primary study (e.g., reviews on prevalence, observational, intervention, diagnostic, prognostic, clinimetric or economic evaluation studies); structure of a systematic review and steps in conducting a systematic review; strategies, tools and sources for searching the literature; qualitative and quantitative data extraction from retrieved publications; principles of methodological quality assessment of component studies (e.g., risk of bias assessment); tools for identification of publication bias; methods of (semi-)quantitative pooling of component study results (research synthesis, e.g., statistical pooling, best- evidence synthesis); assessment and exploration of heterogeneity of study results (e.g., outlier analysis, cumulative meta-analysis, metaregression analysis); levels of evidence and interpretation of review results; guidelines for systematic review protocol writing; guidelines for reporting on systematic review; computer software for meta-analysis; application of systematic review results to individual patient and public health care; infrastructure for health care reviewing and the role of the Cochrane Collaboration; and introduction to introduction to the recent developments in meta-research (beyond meta- analysis).

The module consists of a 8 week course, which is open for external participants as well (e.g., PhD students), every Friday.  The eight-week module will be concluded with the preparation of a protocol for a systematic review on a self-selected topic. Moreover students have to conduct and present a mini-meta-analysis based on a limited number of study publications. These review processes will be supervised and guided by regular consultation with a teacher.