Now what?

Once you’ve taken all of your studies, weighted them correctly, and plugged them into the model formulas, you’ll have a number.

What is this number?  It’s your estimate of the overall average effect of the treatment you’re studying.

In other words, let’s say you study headaches and you want to know which medication is more effective – the drug most doctors recommend or a newer drug. If your outcome is time until pain relief,  the number you calculated will tell you, on average, across studies, which drug resulted in the shortest amount of time to relieve pain.

Want a tool to help you interpret your results and see the big picture? The most common way to do this is to use something called a “forest plot.”