Graphical representation of network meta-analysis: an iconographic support to the complexity of multiple data comparisons
Letter to the Editor
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Traditional meta-analysis is able to compare two treatments against each other, but is not able to analyze the cases in which the treatment regimens to be compared are ≥ 3. For example, considering two innovative treatments T1 and T2 and the corresponding standard treatment S, it is frequent the case in which there are randomized controlled trials (RCTs) comparing T1 vs. S and also T2 vs. S, but there is a lack of controlled head-to-head comparison studies between T1 and T2. The network meta-analysis (NeMa) [ 1, 2, 3] overcomes this major limit by making both direct and indirect comparisons. Within a NeMa, the comparison between two treatments involved in an RTC is defined “direct” (e.g., the comparisons T1 vs S and T2 vs S), while instead, we usually term “indirect” the comparison between two treatments for which a specific comparative assessment (RCT) does not exist yet (e.g., T1 vs T2). Several NEMa graphic representations have already been used by other authors, e.g., with the use...
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