Meta-analysis of ratios of sample variances Academic Article uri icon


  • When conducting a meta-analysis of standardized mean differences (SMDs), it is common to use Cohen's d, or its variants, that require equal variances in the two arms of each study. While interpretation of these SMDs is simple, this alone should not be used as a justification for assuming equal variances. Until now, researchers have either used an F-test for each individual study or perhaps even conveniently ignored such tools altogether. In this paper, we propose a meta-analysis of ratios of sample variances to assess whether the equality of variances assumptions is justified prior to a meta-analysis of SMDs. Quantile-quantile plots, an omnibus test for equal variances or an overall meta-estimate of the ratio of variances can all be used to formally justify the use of less common methods when evidence of unequal variances is found. The methods in this paper are simple to implement and the validity of the approaches are reinforced by simulation studies and an application to a real data set.

publication date

  • 2016