Plot of observed versus predicted delta (with associated 95% confidence intervals for observed delta) of 38 trials included in the analysis. Point estimates of treatment effect (deltas) are represented by green circles for non-statistically significant trials and red triangles for statistically significant trials. Numbers within the circles and triangles refer to the trials as referenced in Additional file 1. The blue 'unity line' with a slope equal to one indicates perfect concordance between observed and predicted delta; for visual clarity and to reduce distortions, the slope is reduced to zero (and the x-axis is horizontally expanded) where multiple predicted deltas have the same value and where 95% confidence intervals cross the unity line. If predictions of delta were accurate and without bias, values of observed delta would be symmetrically scattered above and below the unity line. If there is directional bias, values will fall predominately on one side of the line as they do in the figure.