Online Program

A Bayesian Nonparametric Meta-Analysis Model

*George Karabatsos, University of Illinois-Chicago 

Keywords: meta-analysis; Bayesian nonparametric regression; meta-regression; effect sizes; publication bias

In a meta-analysis, it is important to specify a model that adequately describes the effect-size distribution of the underlying population of studies. The conventional normal fixed-effect and normal random-effects models assume a normal effect-size population distribution, conditionally on parameters and covariates. For estimating the mean overall effect size, such models may be adequate, but for prediction, they surely are not if the effect-size distribution exhibits non-normal behavior. To address this issue, we propose a Bayesian nonparametric meta-analysis model, which can describe a wider range of effect-size distributions, including unimodal symmetric distributions, as well as skewed and more multimodal distributions. We demonstrate our model through the analysis of real meta-analytic data arising from behavioral-genetic research. We compare the predictive performance of the Bayesian nonparametric model against various conventional and more modern normal fixed-effects and random-effects models. User-friendly software for the Bayesian nonparametric model is available from the author.