Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis of Prognosis Research

The number of primary studies evaluating prognostic factors and models is rising per day. Alike for therapies and diagnostic tests, critically summarizing and analyzing the evidence form prognosis studies in a systematic review and meta analysis is beneficial for health care professionals seeking the best evidence. Reviews of prognosis studies are much more challenging because of more variation in questions & designs, specific sources of bias & variation, and more complex statistical meta-analytical models. Several advances regarding the design, critical appraisal and statistical analysis in systematic reviews of prognosis studies, have recently been made. In this online medical course for researchers we discuss and practice how to define your review questions, how to search the literature, how to critically assess the methodological quality of primary prognosis studies, and which statistical methods to use for their synthesis. The course consists of plenary presentations, small-group discussions, and computer exercises.

Learning Objectives

By the end of the course, you'll should be able to:

  • Explain the rationale for performing a systematic review of prognostic studies
  • List the key steps of a systematic review of prognostic studies
  • Formulate a focused review question addressing a prognostic problem
  • Systematically search the literature
  • Critically appraise the evidence from primary prognostic studies
  • Formulate the difficulties of meta-analysis of prognostic research
  • Meta-analyses of performance of prognostic models
  • Meta-analyses of the added value of specific prognostic factors


As this is a university course, it is covered by academic accreditation. Upon passing the final exam, you will receive a recognized certificate from Utrecht University and the UMC Utrecht.       

Course Deadlines

Week 0
Sunday before start date - introduce yourself

Week 1
Sunday – complete Learning Unit 1 and 2

Week 2
Wednesday – hand in group assignment 1
Friday – hand in multiple smaller group assignments
Sunday – complete Learning Unit 3 and 4

Week 3
Monday – peer feedback group assignment 1
Wednesday – peer feedback on multiple smaller group assignments
Sunday – complete Learning Unit 5, 6 and 7

Week 4
Monday – exam


The exam is not compulsory. However, if you want to receive the Course Certificate and the credits, it is obligatory to take the exam. You are allowed to redo the exam once. 

The exam is a take-home exam which will be available between 9am and 5pm CET and from the moment you start, you have 3 hours to finish it. There will be an opportunity for a re-sit. 

It might be that, due to a force majeure situation, you cannot be present during the first exam moment. You must then, preferably prior to the first exam option, ask the academic counsellor for permission to be absent. Please note that the academic counsellor can ask for some form of proof of your absence (e.g. in case of illness) to establish if you are applicable for authorized absence. Jaco de Fockert-Koefoed, MSc is the academic counsellor you need to turn to

In short, as of now, it is no longer possible to skip the first exam option and -automatically- enrol in the second (re-sit) exam. Unauthorized absence during the first exam period results in no longer being able to finish the course that college year.


Entry Requirements

To enroll in this course, you need:

  •   A BSc or MSc degree in biomedical sciences, pharmaceutical sciences, medicine or veterinary medicine, or a comparable degree
  •   Access to the program R
  •   We strongly recommend that you take part in our online course Prognostic Research, prior to enrolling in this course
  •   Sufficient proficiency in English reading and writing

Please note
This is an online course, so you need access to an internet connection in order to be able to follow lectures, complete assignments and communicate with fellow participants. The only part of the course that is not online is the final examination. This course is offered through the MSc Epidemiology program developed by the UMC Utrecht and Utrecht University.

The entire course is also available face-to-face.  For more information about this option, please visit the MSc Epidemiology website.

Course staff

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Pick a date for this course:
(Enrollment deadline: 31 May 2020 - 23:59 CET)
351 days left.

Quick overview

  • 1 Jun 2020 – 21 Jun 2020
  • 3 weeks
  • 14 hrs/wk
  • Academic Certificate
  • 1.5 EC
  • Online learning with guidance and support
  • English
  • Weblectures, individual assignments, group assignments
  • Desktop, Laptop, Smartphone, Tablet
  • 785

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