AIM: To analyse meta-analyses included in systematic reviews (SRs) published in leading orthodontic journals and the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (CDSR) focusing on orthodontic literature and to assess the quality of the existing evidence.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: Electronic searching was undertaken to identify SRs published in five major orthodontic journals and the CDSR between January 2000 and June 2014. Quality assessment of the overall body of evidence from meta-analyses was conducted using the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation working group (GRADE) tool.
RESULTS: One hundred and fifty-seven SRs were identified; meta-analysis was present in 43 of these (27.4 per cent). The highest proportion of SRs that included a meta-analysis was found in Orthodontics and Craniofacial Research (6/13; 46.1 per cent), followed by the CDSR (12/33; 36.4 per cent) and the American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopaedics (15/44; 34.1 per cent). Class II treatment was the most commonly addressed topic within SRs in orthodontics (n = 18/157; 11.5 per cent). The number of trials combined to produce a summary estimate was small for most meta-analyses with a median of 4 (range: 2-52). Only 21 per cent (n = 9) of included meta-analyses were considered to have a high/moderate quality of evidence according to GRADE, while the majority were of low or very low quality (n = 34; 79.0 per cent).
CONCLUSIONS: Overall, approximately one quarter of orthodontic SRs included quantitative synthesis, with a median of four trials per meta-analysis. The overall quality of evidence from the selected orthodontic SRs was predominantly low to very low indicating the relative lack of high quality of evidence from SRs to inform clinical practice guidelines.