women were members of self-help groups (for example, in months) and women’s empowerment (Coleman, 2002; Garikipati, 2008; Garikipati, 2012; Holvoet, 2005). These studies did not allow for the estimation of the average impact of women’s self-help groups on women’s empowerment. Nonetheless, we discuss the results of the studies narratively in our quantitative synthesis.
4 Results were not sensitive to exclusion of this study.
In those cases in which we were not able to calculate the effect size, we contacted the authors with a request for the necessary information to calculate the effect size.3.3.8Data synthesisWe conducted an integrated mixed-methods review in order to benefit from data generated through both quantitative and qualitative researchand to enhance the review’s utility and impact for policymakers. An integrated review has three stages:1) a synthesis of quantitative effects, 2) a synthesis of relevant qualitative evidence, and 3) a synthesis of both summaries that “goes beyond” the primary studies and generates new interpretations or hypotheses (Harden, 2010; Thomas et al., 2004). We conducted a meta-analysis with the data extracted from quantitative studies, and used meta-synthesis methods to synthesize the textual data extracted from thequalitative studies. We then integrated the findings from the qualitative synthesis with those from the quantitative studies to develop a framework for assessing how economic self-help groups might impact women’s empowerment.3.3.9Quantitative synthesisFor our quantitative synthesis (review objective 1), we statistically combined the effect sizes and associated standard errors from 23 quantitative studies that assessed the impact of self-help group programs on women’s empowerment. We only combined studies that focused on empowerment indicators that could be considered sufficientlysimilar. Hence, we conducted a separate meta-analysis for studies that focused on economic empowerment, social empowerment, psychological empowerment, and political empowerment, respectively. We believe these different empowerment indicators can be considered different constructs, so we did not consider it appropriate to combine these empowerment indicators in one meta- analysis.We used inverse-variance weighted random-effects meta-analysis and used established statistical techniques to analyze heterogeneity. We used random-effects instead of fixed-effect analysis in order to allow forcontextual and methodological heterogeneity in the effect sizes.With respect to spillovers, we were unfortunately not able to report and synthesize effect sizes separately for women’s self-help group participants and neighboring women who might indirectly benefit fromthe intervention. None of the included studies separately reported these effect sizes.
3.3.10Assessment of heterogeneityWe explored heterogeneity across studies with an emphasis on social and economic empowerment using I-squared and Q as well as tau-squared and the visualization of the forest plots (Borenstein et al., 2009). The results suggested there was considerable heterogeneity in the effect sizes, although less so for impacts on
economic empowerment. This result was not surprising, since a