BACKGROUND: Systematic reviews and meta-analyses on the incidence and prevalence of neurological conditions are important methods of quantifying the burden and risk of disease.
METHODS: The rigorous methodology required in order to minimize publication bias, account for study heterogeneity, and variation in study quality are described. When appropriate, a meta-analysis is a powerful statistical tool that can help synthesize a vast literature quantitatively, taking into account study heterogeneity. As the epidemiology of neurological conditions continue to be widely studied internationally, systematic reviews and meta-analyses have become essential.
RESULTS: If not conducted carefully, systematic reviews and meta-analyses in neuroepidemiology may lead to erroneous conclusions. It is important to consider various methodological, clinical and statistical factors at all stages of the review and analysis process. Detailed documentation should be kept to assist in the reporting process.
CONCLUSIONS: Published reporting standards should be consulted when conducting systematic reviews and meta-analyses of the incidence and prevalence of neurological conditions, though reporting standards specific to neuroepidemiology are urgently needed.
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