Multivariate meta-analysis of mixed outcomes: A Bayesian approach

Sylwia Bujkiewicz, John R. Thompson, Alex J. Sutton, Nicola J. Cooper, Mark J. Harrison, Deborah P M Symmons, Keith R. Abrams

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Multivariate random effects meta-analysis (MRMA) is an appropriate way for synthesizing data from studies reporting multiple correlated outcomes. In a Bayesian framework, it has great potential for integrating evidence from a variety of sources. In this paper, we propose a Bayesian model for MRMA of mixed outcomes, which extends previously developed bivariate models to the trivariate case and also allows for combination of multiple outcomes that are both continuous and binary. We have constructed informative prior distributions for the correlations by using external evidence. Prior distributions for the within-study correlations were constructed by employing external individual patent data and using a double bootstrap method to obtain the correlations between mixed outcomes. The between-study model of MRMA was parameterized in the form of a product of a series of univariate conditional normal distributions. This allowed us to place explicit prior distributions on the between-study correlations, which were constructed using external summary data. Traditionally, independent 'vague' prior distributions are placed on all parameters of the model. In contrast to this approach, we constructed prior distributions for the between-study model parameters in a way that takes into account the inter-relationship between them. This is a flexible method that can be extended to incorporate mixed outcomes other than continuous and binary and beyond the trivariate case. We have applied this model to a motivating example in rheumatoid arthritis with the aim of incorporating all available evidence in the synthesis and potentially reducing uncertainty around the estimate of interest. © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)3926-3943
    Number of pages17
    JournalStatistics in medicine
    Issue number22
    Publication statusPublished - 30 Sep 2013


    • Bayesian analysis
    • Multiple outcomes
    • Multivariate meta-analysis
    • Rheumatoid arthritis


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