Versions Compared


  • This line was added.
  • This line was removed.
  • Formatting was changed.


The I square statistic (I2) represents the percentage of the variability in effect estimates that is due to heterogeneity (Deeks et al 2008). I2 is the proportion of observed dispersion of results from different studies included in a meta-analysis that is real, rather than spurious (Borenstein et al 2009). The I2 index can be interpreted as the percentage of the total variability in a set of effect sizes due to true heterogeneity (between-studies variability) (Huedo-Medina et al 2006). If I2 = 0%, this indicates that all variability in effect size estimates is due to sampling error within studies. If I2= 50%, it indicates that half of the total variability among effect sizes is caused not by sampling error, but by true heterogeneity between studies (Huedo-Medina et al 2006).  I2 is a percentage and its values lie between 0% and 100% (Higgins et al 2003). A value of 0% indicates no observed heterogeneity, and larger values show increasing heterogeneity (Higgins et al 2003). One proposed suggestion was to consider as low, moderate, and high heterogeneity for I2 values of 25%, 50%, and 75% (Higgins et al 2003). Another guide to interpretation was proposed: 0% to 40% might not be important; 30% to 60% may represent moderate heterogeneity; 50% to 90% may represent substantial heterogeneity; 75% to 100% considerable heterogeneity (Deeks et al 2008). Authors of the guide mention that careful interpretation of the value of I2 depends on magnitude and direction of effects and strength of evidence for heterogeneity (Deeks et al 2008). With a small number of studies (< 20) and/or average sample size (N <80) the statistical power for I2 procedures is less than the usually recommended minimum value of 0.8 (Huedo-Medina et al 2006).With a small number of studies (< 20), both the I2 confidence interval and the Q test should be interpreted very cautiously (Huedo-Medina et al 2006).