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Systematic Reviews of Prognostic 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 prognostic studies in a systematic review and meta-analysis is beneficial for healthcare professionals seeking the best evidence. Reviews of prognostic 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 prognostic 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 prognostic studies, and which statistical methods to use for meta-analyses of the results of primary prognostic studies. The course consists of plenary presentations, small-group discussions, and computer exercises.

Learning Objectives

By the end of the course, you 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


This course includes an exam, which is the only part of the course that is not online. The exam for the 2016 course will take place on Monday, November 21, 2016, between 9.00 - 10.30h CET. The exam for the 2017 course will take place on December 11, 2017. If you are able and willing to take the exam in Utrecht, the Netherlands, we are available to proctor the exam for you without any costs. If you have to take the exam from a different location, you need a proctor. This proctor may ask you to pay for their expenses. Please read more about proctoring on our specific webpage. 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 re-examination for the 2016 course will take place on December 19, 2016, between 9.00 - 10.30h CET. The re-examination for the 2017 course will take place on January 15, 2018.

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
Knowledge of the course Prognostic Research
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.

Course is offered by Course101 As part of the following program

Program taught in:
  • English (US)

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This course is Online
Start Date
3 weeks
785 EUR
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