Impact of missing outcome data in meta-analyses of lifestyle interventions during pregnancy to reduce postpartum weight retention: An overview of systematic reviews with meta-analyses and additional sensitivity analyses

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Obesity Reviews


High risk of bias associated with missing outcome data (MOD) in meta-analyses (MAs) of the effects of lifestyle interventions during pregnancy on postpartum weight retention (PPWR) casts doubt on whether such interventions can be relied upon as truly effective. This systematic overview of three MAs (19 RCTs), each with high MOD rates in the subset of RCTs included, examined how MOD were addressed in the estimation of summary intervention effects. All MAs reported beneficial and statistically significant intervention effects estimated based on complete case analyses, deemed valid if MOD was missing at random (MAR). Therefore, we conducted sensitivity analyses using pattern mixture models and informative missingness parameters (describing how the outcome in the missing participants may be related to the outcome in the completers), to ascertain the robustness of the estimates to reasonable deviations from the MAR assumption. In plausible scenarios where the response in intervention group participants with versus without MOD was worse (by just 0.5 kg), effect estimates were attenuated in all MAs and no longer statistically significant in two MAs. Statistical significance was retained when all 19 RCTs identified across MAs were examined together in a broader meta-analysis: −0.63 kg (95%CI −0.17, −0.08), but the clinical relevancy of effects of this magnitude remains unclear.

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