16.4.6.3  Imputing correlation coefficients

The value for a correlation coefficient might be imputed from another study in the meta-analysis (see below), it might be imputed from a source outside of the meta-analysis, or it might be hypothesized based on reasoned argument. In all of these situations, a sensitivity analysis should be undertaken, trying different values of Corr, to determine whether the overall result of the analysis is robust to the use of imputed correlation coefficients.

 

Estimation of a correlation coefficient is possible from another study in the meta-analysis if that study presents all three standard deviations in Table 16.4.a. The calculation assumes that the mean and standard deviation of measurements for intervention E is the same when it is given in the first period as when it is given in the second period (and similarly for intervention C).

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Before imputation is undertaken it is recommended that correlation coefficients are computed for as many studies as possible and compared.  If these correlations vary substantially then sensitivity analyses are particularly important.