Discordances originated by multiple meta-analyses on interventions for myocardial infarction: A systematic review

Ersilia Lucenteforte, Lorenzo Moja, Valentina Pecoraro, Andrea A. Conti, Antonio Conti, Elena Crudeli, Alessio Galli, Gian Franco Gensini, Martina Minnelli, Alessandro Mugelli, Riccardo Proietti, Jonida Shtylla, Roberto D'Amico, Elena Parmelli, Gianni Virgili

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Objectives To clarify the impact of multiple (covering the same population, intervention, control, and outcomes) systematic reviews (SRs) on interventions for myocardial infarction (MI). Study Design and Setting Clinical Evidence (BMJ Group) sections and related search strategies regarding MI were used to identify multiple SRs published between 1997 and 2007. Multiple SRs were classified as discordant if they featured conflicting results or interpretation of them. Results Thirty-six SRs (23.5% of 153 on the treatment or prevention of MI) were classified as multiple and grouped in 16 clusters [ie, at least two SRs with the same PICO (population, condition/disease, intervention, control) and at least one common outcome] exploring angioplasty, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, anticoagulants, antiplatelets, β-blockers, and stents. Complete agreement on statistically significant differences between interventions was found in 7 of 10 clusters with a shared composite outcome. Agreement was reduced when single outcomes were considered. Despite substantial variation and limited agreement in reporting of major outcomes, SRs agreed in their conclusions on the superiority of either the intervention or control in 14 of 16 clusters. Sources of minor discrepancies were found in terms of study and outcome selection, subgroup analyses, and interpretation of findings. Conclusion Multiple SRs agreed in their qualitative conclusions but not on reporting and on analyses of hard outcomes. Discordance on significance of treatment effects was due to a combination of variation in design with inclusion of different studies and lack of precision for single hard outcomes compared with a composite outcome. Such inconsistencies among SRs could potentially slow the translation of SRs' results to clinical and public health decision making and suggest the need for a broader methodological and clinical agreement on their design.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)246-256
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Clinical Epidemiology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2015



  • Cardiovascular agents
  • Dissent and disputes
  • Evidence based medicine
  • Meta-analysis
  • Myocardial infarction
  • Policy making

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Medicine(all)

Cite this

Lucenteforte, E., Moja, L., Pecoraro, V., Conti, A. A., Conti, A., Crudeli, E., Galli, A., Gensini, G. F., Minnelli, M., Mugelli, A., Proietti, R., Shtylla, J., D'Amico, R., Parmelli, E., & Virgili, G. (2015). Discordances originated by multiple meta-analyses on interventions for myocardial infarction: A systematic review. Journal of Clinical Epidemiology, 68(3), 246-256. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclinepi.2014.11.004