Assessing the quality of published genetic association studies in meta-analyses: the quality of genetic studies (Q-Genie) tool
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BACKGROUND: Advances in genomics technology have led to a dramatic increase in the number of published genetic association studies. Systematic reviews and meta-analyses are a common method of synthesizing findings and providing reliable estimates of the effect of a genetic variant on a trait of interest. However, summary estimates are subject to bias due to the varying methodological quality of individual studies. We embarked on an effort to develop and evaluate a tool that assesses the quality of published genetic association studies. Performance characteristics (i.e. validity, reliability, and item discrimination) were evaluated using a sample of thirty studies randomly selected from a previously conducted systematic review. RESULTS: The tool demonstrates excellent psychometric properties and generates a quality score for each study with corresponding ratings of 'low', 'moderate', or 'high' quality. We applied our tool to a published systematic review to exclude studies of low quality, and found a decrease in heterogeneity and an increase in precision of summary estimates. CONCLUSION: This tool can be used in systematic reviews to inform the selection of studies for inclusion, to conduct sensitivity analyses, and to perform meta-regressions.
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