Barendregt, Jan J., Doi, Suhail A., Lee, Yong Yi, Norman, Rosana E. and Vos, Theo (2013) Meta-analysis of prevalence. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 6711: 974-978. doi:10.1136/jech-2013-203104
Meta-analysis is a method to obtain a weighted average of results from various studies. In addition to pooling effect sizes, meta-analysis can also be used to estimate disease frequencies, such as incidence and prevalence. In this article we present methods for the meta-analysis of prevalence. We discuss the logit and double arcsine transformations to stabilise the variance. We note the special situation of multiple category prevalence, and propose solutions to the problems that arise. We describe the implementation of these methods in the MetaXL software, and present a simulation study and the example of multiple sclerosis from the Global Burden of Disease 2010 project. We conclude that the double arcsine transformation is preferred over the logit, and that the MetaXL implementation of multiple category prevalence is an improvement in the methodology of the meta-analysis of prevalence.