PublicationsAn Empirical Comparison of Meta- and Mega-Analysis With Data From the ENIGMA Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Working Group
Objective: Brain imaging communities focusing on different diseases have increasingly started to collaborate and to pool data to perform well-powered meta- and mega-analyses. Some methodologists claim that a one-stage individual-participant data (IPD) mega-analysis can be superior to a two-stage aggregated data meta-analysis, since more detailed computations can be performed in a mega-analysis. Before definitive conclusions regarding the performance of either method can be drawn, it is necessary to critically evaluate the methodology of, and results obtained by, meta- and mega-analyses.
Methods: Here, we compare the inverse variance weighted random-effect meta-analysis model with a multiple linear regression mega-analysis model, as well as with a linear mixed-effects random-intercept mega-analysis model, using data from 38 cohorts including 3,665 participants of the ENIGMA-OCD consortium. We assessed the effect sizes and standard errors, and the fit of the models, to evaluate the performance of the different methods.
Results: The mega-analytical models showed lower standard errors and narrower confidence intervals than the meta-analysis. Similar standard errors and confidence intervals were found for the linear regression and linear mixed-effects random-intercept models. Moreover, the linear mixed-effects random-intercept models showed better fit indices compared to linear regression mega-analytical models.
Conclusions: Our findings indicate that results obtained by meta- and mega-analysis differ, in favor of the latter. In multi-center studies with a moderate amount of variation between cohorts, a linear mixed-effects random-intercept mega-analytical framework appears to be the better approach to investigate structural neuroimaging data.