Empirical evaluation of the Q-Genie tool: a protocol for assessment of effectiveness
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INTRODUCTION: Meta-analyses of genetic association studies are affected by biases and quality shortcomings of the individual studies. We previously developed and validated a risk of bias tool for use in systematic reviews of genetic association studies. The present study describes a larger empirical evaluation of the Q-Genie tool. METHODS AND ANALYSIS: MEDLINE, Embase, Global Health and the Human Genome Epidemiology Network will be searched for published meta-analyses of genetic association studies. Twelve reviewers in pairs will apply the Q-Genie tool to all studies in included meta-analyses. The Q-Genie will then be evaluated on its ability to (i) increase precision after exclusion of low quality studies, (ii) decrease heterogeneity after exclusion of low quality studies and (iii) good agreement with experts on quality rating by Q-Genie. A qualitative assessment of the tool will also be conducted using structured questionnaires. DISCUSSION: This systematic review will quantitatively and qualitatively assess the Q-Genie's ability to identify poor quality genetic association studies. This information will inform the selection of studies for inclusion in meta-analyses, conduct sensitivity analyses and perform metaregression. Results of this study will strengthen our confidence in estimates of the effect of a gene on an outcome from meta-analyses, ultimately bringing us closer to deliver on the promise of personalised medicine. ETHICS AND DISSEMINATION: An updated Q-Genie tool will be made available from the Population Genomics Program website and the results will be submitted for a peer-reviewed publication.
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