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OBJECTIVES: Risk of bias assessments are important in meta-analyses of both aggregate and individual participant data (IPD). There is limited evidence on whether and how risk of bias of included studies or datasets in IPD meta-analyses (IPDMAs) is assessed. We review how risk of bias is currently assessed, reported, and incorporated in IPDMAs of test accuracy and clinical prediction model studies and provide recommendations for improvement. STUDY DESIGN AND SETTING: We searched PubMed (January 2018-May 2020) to identify IPDMAs of test accuracy and prediction models, then elicited whether each IPDMA assessed risk of bias of included studies and, if so, how assessments were reported and subsequently incorporated into the IPDMAs. RESULTS: Forty-nine IPDMAs were included. Nineteen of 27 (70%) test accuracy IPDMAs assessed risk of bias, compared to 5 of 22 (23%) prediction model IPDMAs. Seventeen of 19 (89%) test accuracy IPDMAs used Quality Assessment of Diagnostic Accuracy Studies-2 (QUADAS-2), but no tool was used consistently among prediction model IPDMAs. Of IPDMAs assessing risk of bias, 7 (37%) test accuracy IPDMAs and 1 (20%) prediction model IPDMA provided details on the information sources (e.g., the original manuscript, IPD, primary investigators) used to inform judgments, and 4 (21%) test accuracy IPDMAs and 1 (20%) prediction model IPDMA provided information or whether assessments were done before or after obtaining the IPD of the included studies or datasets. Of all included IPDMAs, only seven test accuracy IPDMAs (26%) and one prediction model IPDMA (5%) incorporated risk of bias assessments into their meta-analyses. For future IPDMA projects, we provide guidance on how to adapt tools such as Prediction model Risk Of Bias ASsessment Tool (for prediction models) and QUADAS-2 (for test accuracy) to assess risk of bias of included primary studies and their IPD. CONCLUSION: Risk of bias assessments and their reporting need to be improved in IPDMAs of test accuracy and, especially, prediction model studies. Using recommended tools, both before and after IPD are obtained, will address this.

Original publication




Journal article


J clin epidemiol

Publication Date





Applicability, Individual participant data meta-analysis, PROBAST, Prediction models, QUADAS-2, Quality, Risk of bias, Test accuracy