Recommendations to Improve Quality of Probiotic Systematic Reviews with Meta-Analyses

Lynne V. McFarland, Gail Hecht, Mary E. Sanders, Debra A. Goff, Ellie J.C. Goldstein, Colin Hill, Stuart Johnson, Maryam R. Kashi, Ravina Kullar, Maria L. Marco, Daniel J. Merenstein, Mathieu Millette, Geoffrey A. Preidis, Eamonn M.M. Quigley, Gregor Reid, Seppo Salminen, Jason C. Sniffen, Harry Sokol, Hania Szajewska, Daniel J. TancrediKristin Woolard

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Importance: Systematic reviews and meta-analyses often report conflicting results when assessing evidence for probiotic efficacy, partially because of the lack of understanding of the unique features of probiotic trials. As a consequence, clinical decisions on the use of probiotics have been confusing. Objective: To provide recommendations to improve the quality and consistency of systematic reviews with meta-analyses on probiotics, so evidence-based clinical decisions can be made with more clarity. Evidence Review: For this consensus statement, an updated literature review was conducted (January 1, 2020, to June 30, 2022) to supplement a previously published 2018 literature search to identify areas where probiotic systematic reviews with meta-analyses might be improved. An expert panel of 21 scientists and physicians with experience on writing and reviewing probiotic reviews and meta-analyses was convened and used a modified Delphi method to develop recommendations for future probiotic reviews. Findings: A total of 206 systematic reviews with meta-analysis components on probiotics were screened and representative examples discussed to determine areas for improvement. The expert panel initially identified 36 items that were inconsistently reported or were considered important to consider in probiotic meta-analyses. Of these, a consensus was reached for 9 recommendations to improve the quality of future probiotic meta-analyses. Conclusions and Relevance: In this study, the expert panel reached a consensus on 9 recommendations that should promote improved reporting of probiotic systematic reviews with meta-analyses and, thereby, assist in clinical decisions regarding the use of probiotics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E2346872
JournalJAMA Network Open
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 8 2023


  • Humans
  • Systematic Reviews as Topic
  • Probiotics/therapeutic use
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Consensus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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