Meta-analytic methods of pooling correlation matrices for structural equation modeling under different patterns of missing data.
In the first stage of meta-analytic structural equation modeling (MASEM), researchers synthesized studies using univariate meta-analysis (UM) and multivariate meta-analysis (MM) approaches. The MM approaches are known to be of better performance than the UM approaches in the meta-analysis with equal sized studies. However in real situations, where the studies might be of different sizes, the empirical performance of these approaches is yet to be studied in the first and second stages of MASEM. The present study aimed to evaluate the performance of the UM and MM methods, having unequal sample sizes in different primary studies. Testing the homogeneity of correlation matrices and the empirical power, estimating the pooled correlation matrix and also, estimating parameters of a path model were investigated using these approaches by simulation. The results of the first stage showed that Type I error rate was well under control at 0.05 level when the average sample sizes were 200 or more, irrespective of the types of the methods or the sample sizes used. Moreover, the relative percentage biases of the pooled correlation matrices were also lower than 2.5% for all methods. There was a dramatic decrease in the empirical power for all synthesis methods when the inequality of the sample sizes was increased. In fitting the path model at the second stage, MM methods provided better estimation of the parameters. This study showed the different performance of the four methods in the statistical power, especially when the sample sizes of primary studies were highly unequal. Moreover, in fitting the path model, the MM approaches provided better estimation of the parameters.