Analysis of Variance in Genetic Associations and Health Care Interventions

The maximal between-study variance was more likely to be recorded early in the 44 eligible meta-analyses of genetic associations than in the 37 meta-analyses of health care interventions (P = .013). At the time of the first heterogeneity assessment, the most favorable-ever result in support of a specific association was more likely to appear than the least favorable-ever result (22 vs. 10, P = .017); the opposite was seen at the second heterogeneity assessment (15 vs. 5, P = .031). Such a sequence of extreme opposite results was not seen in the clinical trials meta-analyses. The estimated between-study variance decreased over time in genetic association studies (P = .010), but not in clinical trials (P = .30).