Against Over-reliance on PRISMA Guidelines for Meta-analytical Studies

Jaime A. Teixeira da Silva and Timothy Daly


The Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines were elaborated to allow authors of such papers to identify quality articles for inclusion in their scholarly work. However, we have identified several issues that point to an over-reliance on the PRISMA guidelines. Firstly, we question the rigor of implementation by authors and the rigor of verification by peer reviewers and editors, and whether they have screened papers to ensure adherence to the PRISMA guidelines. Secondly, we have identified cases where the PRISMA criteria led to as much as 99.97% of the published literature being ignored, suggesting that valid publications meeting these criteria might be at risk of being ignored. Thirdly, we have noted that exclusion is not only a quantitative problem—it is also a qualitative one, since the screening procedure groups all non-conforming literature into one basket. Fourthly, we have noted that seven copies of the PRISMA guidelines exist. This being the case, which one should be cited? To replace over-reliance on PRISMA screening, we encourage authors, peer reviewers, and editors to publish systematic reviews and meta-analyses that respect the dual criteria of scientific plausibility and diversity of included papers.

Rambam Maimonides Med J 2024;15(1):e0004