by Andrew J. Vickers
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY, USA

I first became involved in systematic review when it was still
relatively controversial. I remember it being argued that reviews
inevitably led one to ‘combine apples and oranges’; I
also remember talk about ‘the end of systematic review’ after
a randomized trial of magnesium for myocardial infarct failed
to confirm promising results from a meta-analysis. Neither of
these arguments has stood the test of time. But I also remember
it being said that systematic review allowed investigators
to pump out meaningless re-analyses of published trials in
place of the more demanding, and scientifically productive,
work of collecting new data. At the time I thought that this
was a rather silly point. It turns out that I was wrong. Read more …