This is an archived version of the Handbook. For the current version, please go to training.cochrane.org/handbook/current or search for this chapter here.

Subgroup analyses may be undertaken within RevMan. Meta-analyses within subgroups and meta-analyses that combine several subgroups are both permitted. It is tempting to compare effect estimates in different subgroups by considering the meta-analysis results from each subgroup separately. This should only be done informally by comparing the magnitudes of effect. Noting that either the effect or the test for heterogeneity in one subgroup is statistically significant whilst that in the other subgroup is not statistically significant does not indicate that the subgroup factor explains heterogeneity. Since different subgroups are likely to contain different amounts of information and thus have different abilities to detect effects, it is extremely misleading simply to compare the statistical significance of the results.