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1.  Risperidone versus other atypical antipsychotics for schizophrenia 
Background
In many countries of the industrialised world second-generation (“atypical”) antipsychotics (SGAs) have become the first line drug treatment for people with schizophrenia. The question as to whether and if so how much the effects of the various SGAs differ is a matter of debate. In this review we examined how the efficacy and tolerability of risperidone differs from that of other SGAs.
Objectives
To evaluate the effects of risperidone compared with other atypical antipsychotics for people with schizophrenia and schizophrenia-like psychosis.
Search methods
1. Electronic searching
We searched the Cochrane Schizophrenia Group Trials Register (April 2007) which is based on regular searches of BIOSIS, CENTRAL, CINAHL, EMBASE, MEDLINE and PsycINFO.
2. Reference searching
We inspected the references of all identified studies for more trials.
3. Personal contact
We contacted the first author of each included study for missing information.
4. Drug companies
We contacted the manufacturers of all atypical antipsychotics included for additional data.
Selection criteria
We included all randomised, blinded trials comparing oral risperidone with oral forms of amisulpride, aripiprazole, clozapine, olanzapine, quetiapine, sertindole, ziprasidone or zotepine in people with schizophrenia or schizophrenia-like psychosis.
Data collection and analysis
We extracted data independently. For dichotomous data we calculated risk ratio (RR) and their 95% confidence intervals (CI) on an intention-to-treat basis based on a random-effects model. We calculated numbers needed to treat/harm (NNT/NNH) where appropriate. For continuous data, we calculated mean differences (MD), again based on a random-effects model.
Main results
The review currently includes 45 blinded RCTs with 7760 participants. The number of RCTs available for each comparison varied: four studies compared risperidone with amisulpride, two with aripiprazole, 11 with clozapine, 23 with olanzapine, eleven with quetiapine, two with sertindole, three with ziprasidone and none with zotepine. Attrition from these studies was high (46.9%), leaving the interpretation of results problematic. Furthermore, 60% were industry sponsored, which can be a source of bias.
There were few significant differences in overall acceptability of treatment as measured by leaving the studies early. Risperidone was slightly less acceptable than olanzapine, and slightly more acceptable than ziprasidone in this regard.
Risperidone improved the general mental state (PANSS total score) slightly less than olanzapine (15 RCTs, n = 2390, MD 1.94 CI 0.58 to 3.31), but slightly more than quetiapine (9 RCTs, n = 1953, MD −3.09 CI −5.16 to −1.01) and ziprasidone (3 RCTs, n = 1016, MD −3.91 CI −7.55 to −0.27). The comparisons with the other SGA drugs were equivocal. Risperidone was also less efficacious than olanzapine and clozapine in terms of leaving the studies early due to inefficacy, but more efficacious than ziprasidone in the same outcome.
Risperidone produced somewhat more extrapyramidal side effects than a number of other SGAs (use of antiparkinson medication versus clozapine 6 RCTs, n = 304, RR 2.57 CI 1.47 to 4.48, NNH 6 CI 33 to 3; versus olanzapine 13 RCTs, n = 2599, RR 1.28 CI 1.06 to 1.55, NNH 17 CI 9 to 100; versus quetiapine 6 RCTs, n = 1715, RR 1.98 CI 1.16 to 3.39, NNH 20 CI 10 to 100; versus ziprasidone 2 RCTs, n = 822, RR 1.42 CI 1.03 to 1.96, NNH not estimable; parkinsonism versus sertindole 1 RCT, n = 321, RR 4.11 CI 1.44 to 11.73, NNH 14 CI 100 to 8). Risperidone also increased prolactin levels clearly more than all comparators, except for amisulpride and sertindole for which no data were available.
Other adverse events were less consistently reported, but risperidone may well produce more weight gain and/or associated metabolic problems than amisulpride (weight gain: 3 RCTs, n = 585, MD 0.99 CI 0.37 to 1.61), aripiprazole (cholesterol increase: 1 RCT, n = 83, MD 22.30 CI 4.91 to 39.69) and ziprasidone (cholesterol increase 2 RCTs, n = 767, MD 8.58 CI 1.11 to 16.04) but less than clozapine (weight gain 3 RCTs n = 373, MD −3.30 CI −5.65 to −0.95), olanzapine (weight gain 13 RCTs, n = 2116, MD −2.61 CI −3.74 to −1.48), quetiapine (cholesterol increase: 5 RCTs, n = 1433, MD −8.49 CI −12. 23 to −4.75) and sertindole (weight gain: 2 RCTs, n = 328, MD −0.99 CI −1.86 to −0.12). It may be less sedating than clozapine and quetiapine, lengthen the QTc interval less than sertindole (QTc change: 2 RCTs, n = 495, MD −18.60 CI −22.37 to 14.83), produce fewer seizures than clozapine (2 RCTs, n = 354, RR 0.22 CI 0.07 to 0.70, NNT 14 CI 8 to 33) and less sexual dysfunction in men than sertindole (2 RCTs, n = 437, RR 0.34 CI 0.16 to 0.76, NNT 13 CI 8 to 33).
Authors’ conclusions
Risperidone seems to produce somewhat more extrapyramidal side effects and clearly more prolactin increase than most other SGAs. It may also differ from other compounds in efficacy and in the occurrence of other adverse effects such as weight gain, metabolic problems, cardiac effects, sedation and seizures. Nevertheless, the large proportion of participants leaving studies early and incomplete reporting of outcomes makes it difficult to draw firm conclusions. Further large trials, especially comparing risperidone with those other new drugs for which only a few RCTs are available, are needed.
doi:10.1002/14651858.CD006626.pub2
PMCID: PMC4167865  PMID: 21249678
Antipsychotic Agents [adverse effects; * therapeutic use]; Benzodiazepines [therapeutic use]; Clozapine [therapeutic use]; Dibenzothiazepines [therapeutic use]; Imidazoles [therapeutic use]; Indoles [therapeutic use]; Piperazines [therapeutic use]; Quinolones [therapeutic use]; Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic; Risperidone [adverse effects; * therapeutic use]; Schizophrenia [* drug therapy]; Sulpiride [analogs & derivatives; therapeutic use]; Thiazoles [therapeutic use]; Humans
2.  Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillators. Prophylactic Use 
Executive Summary
Objective
The use of implantable cardiac defibrillators (ICDs) to prevent sudden cardiac death (SCD) in patients resuscitated from cardiac arrest or documented dangerous ventricular arrhythmias (secondary prevention of SCD) is an insured service. In 2003 (before the establishment of the Ontario Health Technology Advisory Committee), the Medical Advisory Secretariat conducted a health technology policy assessment on the prophylactic use (primary prevention of SCD) of ICDs for patients at high risk of SCD. The Medical Advisory Secretariat concluded that ICDs are effective for the primary prevention of SCD. Moreover, it found that a more clearly defined target population at risk for SCD that would be likely to benefit from ICDs is needed, given that the number needed to treat (NNT) from recent studies is 13 to 18, and given that the per-unit cost of ICDs is $32,000, which means that the projected cost to Ontario is $770 million (Cdn).
Accordingly, as part of an annual review and publication of more recent articles, the Medical Advisory Secretariat updated its health technology policy assessment of ICDs.
Clinical Need
Sudden cardiac death is caused by the sudden onset of fatal arrhythmias, or abnormal heart rhythms: ventricular tachycardia (VT), a rhythm abnormality in which the ventricles cause the heart to beat too fast, and ventricular fibrillation (VF), an abnormal, rapid and erratic heart rhythm. About 80% of fatal arrhythmias are associated with ischemic heart disease, which is caused by insufficient blood flow to the heart.
Management of VT and VF with antiarrhythmic drugs is not very effective; for this reason, nonpharmacological treatments have been explored. One such treatment is the ICD.
The Technology
An ICD is a battery-powered device that, once implanted, monitors heart rhythm and can deliver an electric shock to restore normal rhythm when potentially fatal arrhythmias are detected. The use of ICDs to prevent SCD in patients resuscitated from cardiac arrest or documented dangerous ventricular arrhythmias (secondary prevention) is an insured service in Ontario.
Primary prevention of SCD involves identification of and preventive therapy for patients who are at high risk for SCD. Most of the studies in the literature that have examined the prevention of fatal ventricular arrhythmias have focused on patients with ischemic heart disease, in particular, those with heart failure (HF), which has been shown to increase the risk of SCD. The risk of HF is determined by left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF); most studies have focused on patients with an LVEF under 0.35 or 0.30. While most studies have found ICDs to reduce significantly the risk for SCD in patients with an LVEF less than 0.35, a more recent study (Sudden Cardiac Death in Heart Failure Trial [SCD-HeFT]) reported that patients with HF with nonischemic heart disease could also benefit from this technology. Based on the generalization of the SCD-HeFT study, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid in the United States recently announced that it would allocate $10 billion (US) annually toward the primary prevention of SCD for patients with ischemic and nonischemic heart disease and an LVEF under 0.35.
Review Strategy
The aim of this literature review was to assess the effectiveness, safety, and cost effectiveness of ICDs for the primary prevention of SCD.
The standard search strategy used by the Medical Advisory Secretariat was used. This included a search of all international health technology assessments as well as a search of the medical literature from January 2003–May 2005.
A modification of the GRADE approach (1) was used to make judgments about the quality of evidence and strength of recommendations systematically and explicitly. GRADE provides a framework for structured reflection and can help to ensure that appropriate judgments are made. GRADE takes into account a study’s design, quality, consistency, and directness in judging the quality of evidence for each outcome. The balance between benefits and harms, quality of evidence, applicability, and the certainty of the baseline risks are considered in judgments about the strength of recommendations.
Summary of Findings
Overall, ICDs are effective for the primary prevention of SCD. Three studies – the Multicentre Automatic Defibrillator Implantation Trial I (MADIT I), the Multicentre Automatic Defibrillator Implantation Trial II (MADIT II), and SCD-HeFT – showed there was a statistically significant decrease in total mortality for patients who prophylactically received an ICD compared with those who received conventional therapy (Table 1).
Results of Key Studies on the Use of Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillators for the Primary Prevention of Sudden Cardiac Death – All-Cause Mortality
MADIT I: Multicentre Automatic Defibrillator Implantation Trial I; MADIT II: Multicentre Automatic Defibrillator Implantation Trial II; SCD-HeFT: Sudden Cardiac Death in Heart Failure Trial.
EP indicates electrophysiology; ICD, implantable cardioverter defibrillator; NNT, number needed to treat; NSVT, nonsustained ventricular tachycardia. The NNT will appear higher if follow-up is short. For ICDs, the absolute benefit increases over time for at least a 5-year period; the NNT declines, often substantially, in studies with a longer follow-up. When the NNT are equalized for a similar period as the SCD-HeFT duration (5 years), the NNT for MADIT-I is 2.2; for MADIT-II, it is 6.3.
GRADE Quality of the Evidence
Using the GRADE Working Group criteria, the quality of these 3 trials was examined (Table 2).
Quality refers to the criteria such as the adequacy of allocation concealment, blinding and follow-up.
Consistency refers to the similarity of estimates of effect across studies. If there is important unexplained inconsistency in the results, our confidence in the estimate of effect for that outcome decreases. Differences in the direction of effect, the size of the differences in effect, and the significance of the differences guide the decision about whether important inconsistency exists.
Directness refers to the extent to which the people interventions and outcome measures are similar to those of interest. For example, there may be uncertainty about the directness of the evidence if the people of interest are older, sicker or have more comorbidity than those in the studies.
As stated by the GRADE Working Group, the following definitions were used to grade the quality of the evidence:
High: Further research is very unlikely to change our confidence n the estimate of effect.
Moderate: Further research is likely to have an important impact on our confidence in the estimate of effect and may change the estimate.
Low: Further research is very likely to have an important impact on our confidence in the estimate of effect and is likely to change the estimate.
Very low: Any estimate of effect is very uncertain.
Quality of Evidence – MADIT I, MADIT II, and SCD-HeFT*
MADIT I: Multicentre Automatic Defibrillator Implantation Trial I; MADIT II: Multicentre Automatic Defibrillator Implantation Trial II; SCD-HeFT: Sudden Cardiac Death in Heart Failure Trial.
The 3 trials had 3 different sets of eligibility criteria for implantation of an ICD for primary prevention of SCD. Conclusions
Conclusions
Overall, there is evidence that ICDs are effective for the primary prevention of SCD. Three trials have found a statistically significant decrease in total mortality for patients who prophylactically received an ICD compared with those who received conventional therapy in their respective study populations.
As per the GRADE Working Group, recommendations consider 4 main factors:
The tradeoffs, taking into account the estimated size of the effect for the main outcome, the confidence limits around those estimates, and the relative value placed on the outcome;
The quality of the evidence (Table 2);
Translation of the evidence into practice in a specific setting, taking into consideration important factors that could be expected to modify the size of the expected effects, such as proximity to a hospital or availability of necessary expertise; and
Uncertainty about the baseline risk for the population of interest
The GRADE Working Group also recommends that incremental costs of health care alternatives should be considered explicitly with the expected health benefits and harms. Recommendations rely on judgments about the value of the incremental health benefits in relation to the incremental costs. The last column in Table 3 is the overall trade-off between benefits and harms and incorporates any risk or uncertainty.
For MADIT I, the overall GRADE and strength of the recommendation is “moderate” – the quality of the evidence is “moderate” (uncertainty due to methodological limitations in the study design), and risk/uncertainty in cost and budget impact was mitigated by the use of filters to help target the prevalent population at risk (Table 3).
For MADIT II, the overall GRADE and strength of the recommendation is “very weak” – the quality of the evidence is “weak” (uncertainty due to methodological limitations in the study design), but there is risk or uncertainty regarding the high prevalence, cost, and budget impact. It is not clear why screening for high-risk patients was dropped, given that in MADIT II the absolute reduction in mortality was small (5.6%) compared to MADIT I, which used electrophysiological screening (23%) (Table 3).
For SCD-HeFT, the overall GRADE and strength of the recommendation is “weak” – the study quality is “moderate,” but there is also risk/uncertainty due to a high NNT at 5 years (13 compared to the MADIT II NNT of 6 and MADIT I NNT of 2 at 5 years), high prevalent population (N = 23,700), and a high budget impact ($770 million). A filter (as demonstrated in MADIT 1) is required to help target the prevalent population at risk and mitigate the risk or uncertainty relating to the high NNT, prevalence, and budget impact (Table 3).
The results of the most recent ICD trial (SCD-HeFT) are not generalizable to the prevalent population in Ontario (Table 3). Given that the current funding rate of an ICD is $32,500 (Cdn), the estimated budget impact for Ontario would be as high as $770 million (Cdn). The uncertainty around the cost estimate of treating the prevalent population with LVEF < 0.30 in Ontario, the lack of human resources to implement such a strategy and the high number of patients required to prevent one SCD (NNT = 13) calls for an alternative strategy that allows the appropriate uptake and diffusion of ICDs for primary prevention for patients at maximum risk for SCD within the SCD-HeFT population.
The uptake and diffusion of ICDs for primary prevention of SCD should therefore be based on risk stratification through the use of appropriate screen(s) that would identify patients at highest risk who could derive the most benefit from this technology.
Overall GRADE and Strength of Recommendation for the Use of Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillators for the Primary Prevention of Sudden Cardiac Death
MADIT I: Multicentre Automatic Defibrillator Implantation Trial I; MADIT II: Multicentre Automatic Defibrillator Implantation Trial II; SCD-HeFT: Sudden Cardiac Death in Heart Failure Trial.
NNT indicates number needed to treat. The NNT will appear higher if follow-up is short. For ICDs, the absolute benefit increases over time for at least a 5-year period; the NNT declines, often substantially, in studies with a longer follow-up. When the NNT are equalized for a similar period as the SCD-HeFT duration (5 years), the NNT for MADIT-I is 2.2; for MADIT-II, it is 6.3.
NSVT indicates nonsustained ventricular tachycardia; VT, ventricular tachycardia.
PMCID: PMC3382404  PMID: 23074465
3.  The orthopaedic trauma literature: an evaluation of statistically significant findings in orthopaedic trauma randomized trials 
Background
Evidence-based medicine posits that health care research is founded upon clinically important differences in patient centered outcomes. Statistically significant differences between two treatments may not necessarily reflect a clinically important difference. We aimed to quantify the sample sizes and magnitude of treatment effects in a review of orthopaedic randomized trials with statistically significant findings.
Methods
We conducted a comprehensive search (PubMed, Cochrane) for all randomized controlled trials between 1/1/95 to 12/31/04. Eligible studies include those that focused upon orthopaedic trauma. Baseline characteristics and treatment effects were abstracted by two reviewers. Briefly, for continuous outcome measures (ie functional scores), we calculated effect sizes (mean difference/standard deviation). Dichotomous variables (ie infection, nonunion) were summarized as absolute risk differences and relative risk reductions (RRR). Effect sizes >0.80 and RRRs>50% were defined as large effects.
Using regression analysis we examined the association between the total number of outcome events and treatment effect (dichotomous outcomes).
Results
Our search yielded 433 randomized controlled trials (RCTs), of which 76 RCTs with statistically significant findings on 184 outcomes (122 continuous/62 dichotomous outcomes) met study eligibility criteria. The mean effect size across studies with continuous outcome variables was 1.7 (95% confidence interval: 1.43–1.97). For dichotomous outcomes, the mean risk difference was 30% (95%confidence interval:24%–36%) and the mean relative risk reduction was 61% (95% confidence interval: 55%–66%; range: 0%–97%). Fewer numbers of total outcome events in studies was strongly correlated with increasing magnitude of the treatment effect (Pearson's R = -0.70, p < 0.01). When adjusted for sample size, the number of outcome events revealed an independent association with the size of the treatment effect (Odds ratio = 50, 95% confidence interval: 3.0–1000, p = 0.006).
Conclusion
Our review suggests that statistically significant results in orthopaedic trials have the following implications-1) On average large risk reductions are reported 2) Large treatment effects (>50% relative risk reduction) are correlated with few number of total outcome events. Readers should interpret the results of such small trials with these issues in mind.
doi:10.1186/1471-2474-9-14
PMCID: PMC2254414  PMID: 18230147
4.  Early intervention for psychosis 
Background
Proponents of early intervention have argued that outcomes might be improved if more therapeutic efforts were focused on the early stages of schizophrenia or on people with prodromal symptoms. Early intervention in schizophrenia has two elements that are distinct from standard care: early detection, and phase-specific treatment (phase-specific treatment is a psychological, social or physical treatment developed, or modified, specifically for use with people at an early stage of the illness).
Early detection and phase-specific treatment may both be offered as supplements to standard care, or may be provided through a specialised early intervention team. Early intervention is now well established as a therapeutic approach in America, Europe and Australasia.
Objectives
To evaluate the effects of: (a) early detection; (b) phase-specific treatments; and (c) specialised early intervention teams in the treatment of people with prodromal symptoms or first-episode psychosis.
Search methods
We searched the Cochrane Schizophrenia Group Trials Register (March 2009), inspected reference lists of all identified trials and reviews and contacted experts in the field.
Selection criteria
We included all randomised controlled trials (RCTs) designed to prevent progression to psychosis in people showing prodromal symptoms, or to improve outcome for people with first-episode psychosis. Eligible interventions, alone and in combination, included: early detection, phase-specific treatments, and care from specialised early intervention teams. We accepted cluster-randomised trials but excluded non-randomised trials.
Data collection and analysis
We reliably selected studies, quality rated them and extracted data. For dichotomous data, we estimated relative risks (RR), with the 95% confidence intervals (CI). Where possible, we calculated the number needed to treat/harm statistic (NNT/H) and used intention-to-treat analysis (ITT).
Main results
Studies were diverse, mostly small, undertaken by pioneering researchers and with many methodological limitations (18 RCTs, total n=1808). Mostly, meta-analyses were inappropriate. For the six studies addressing prevention of psychosis for people with prodromal symptoms, olanzapine seemed of little benefit (n=60, 1 RCT, RR conversion to psychosis 0.58 CI 0.3 to 1.2), and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) equally so (n=60, 1 RCT, RR conversion to psychosis 0.50 CI 0.2 to 1.7). A risperidone plus CBT plus specialised team did have benefit over specialist team alone at six months (n=59, 1 RCT, RR conversion to psychosis 0.27 CI 0.1 to 0.9, NNT 4 CI 2 to 20), but this was not seen by 12 months (n=59, 1 RCT, RR 0.54 CI 0.2 to 1.3). Omega 3 fatty acids (EPA) had advantage over placebo (n=76, 1 RCT, RR transition to psychosis 0.13 CI 0.02 to 1.0, NNT 6 CI 5 to 96). We know of no replications of this finding.
The remaining trials aimed to improve outcome in first-episode psychosis. Phase-specific CBT for suicidality seemed to have little effect, but the single study was small (n=56, 1 RCT, RR suicide 0.81 CI 0.05 to 12.26). Family therapy plus a specialised team in the Netherlands did not clearly affect relapse (n=76, RR 1.05 CI 0.4 to 3.0), but without the specialised team in China it may (n=83, 1 RCT, RR admitted to hospital 0.28 CI 0.1 to 0.6, NNT 3 CI 2 to 6). The largest and highest quality study compared specialised team with standard care. Leaving the study early was reduced (n=547, 1 RCT, RR 0.59 CI 0.4 to 0.8, NNT 9 CI 6 to 18) and compliance with treatment improved (n=507, RR stopped treatment 0.20 CI 0.1 to 0.4, NNT 9 CI 8 to 12). The mean number of days spent in hospital at one year were not significantly different (n=507, WMD, −1.39 CI −2.8 to 0.1), neither were data for ‘Not hospitalised’ by five years (n=547, RR 1.05 CI 0.90 to 1.2). There were no significant differences in numbers ‘not living independently’ by one year (n=507, RR 0.55 CI 0.3 to 1.2). At five years significantly fewer participants in the treatment group were ‘not living independently’ (n=547, RR 0.42 CI 0.21 to 0.8, NNT 19 CI 14 to 62). When phase-specific treatment (CBT) was compared with befriending no significant differences emerged in the number of participants being hospitalised over the 12 months (n=62, 1 RCT, RR 1.08 CI 0.59 to 1.99).
Phase-specific treatment E-EPA oils suggested no benefit (n=80, 1 RCT, RR no response 0.90 CI 0.6 to 1.4) as did phase-specific treatment brief intervention (n=106, 1 RCT, RR admission 0.86 CI 0.4 to 1.7). Phase-specific ACE found no benefit but participants given vocational intervention were more likely to be employed (n=41, 1 RCT, RR 0.39 CI 0.21 to 0.7, NNT 2 CI 2 to 4). Phase-specific cannabis and psychosis therapy did not show benefit (n=47, RR cannabis use 1.30 CI 0.8 to 2.2) and crisis assessment did not reduce hospitalisation (n=98, RR 0.85 CI 0.6 to 1.3). Weight was unaffected by early behavioural intervention.
Authors’ conclusions
There is emerging, but as yet inconclusive evidence, to suggest that people in the prodrome of psychosis can be helped by some interventions. There is some support for specialised early intervention services, but further trials would be desirable, and there is a question of whether gains are maintained. There is some support for phase-specific treatment focused on employment and family therapy, but again, this needs replicating with larger and longer trials.
doi:10.1002/14651858.CD004718.pub3
PMCID: PMC4163966  PMID: 21678345
*Psychotic Disorders [diagnosis; therapy]; *Schizophrenia [diagnosis; therapy]; Cognitive Therapy; Early Diagnosis; Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic; Suicidal Ideation; Time Factors; Humans
5.  Efficacy of Treating Hypertension in Women 
OBJECTIVE
To assess whether the relative and absolute benefit of hypertension treatment in women varies with age or race.
DESIGN
Systematic review of studies from 1966 to 1998 using medline, reviews, and consultation with experts. Eleven randomized controlled trials of pharmacologic treatment of primary hypertension with cardiovascular morbidity and mortality outcomes were selected, with a pooled population of 23,000 women. Relative risks were combined for each end point to form a summary risk ratio using meta-analytic techniques based on a random-effects model. Summary risk ratios were converted to numbers needed to treat (NNTs). Data were dichotomized by age to approximate menopausal status (30 to 54 years, and 55 years and older), and by race (white and African American).
MAIN RESULTS
In women aged 55 years or older (90% white), hypertension treatment resulted in a 38% risk reduction in fatal and nonfatal cerebrovascular events (95% confidence interval [CI] 27%, 47%; 5-year NNT 78), a 25% reduction in fatal and nonfatal cardiovascular events (95% CI 17%, 33%; 5-year NNT 58), and a 17% reduction in cardiovascular mortality (95% CI 3%, 29%; 5-year NNT 282). In women aged 30 to 54 years (79% white), hypertension treatment resulted in a 41% risk reduction in fatal and nonfatal cerebrovascular events (95% CI 8%, 63%; 5-year NNT 264), and a 27% risk reduction in fatal and nonfatal cardiovascular events (95% CI 4%, 44%; 5-year NNT 259). Hypertension treatment in African-American women (mean age, 52 years) reduced the risk of fatal and nonfatal cerebrovascular events by 53% (95% CI 29%, 69%; 5-year NNT 39), fatal and nonfatal cardiovascular events by 45% (95% CI 18%, 63%; 5-year NNT 21), fatal and nonfatal coronary events by 33% (95% CI 6%, 52%; 5-year NNT 48), and all-cause mortality by 34% (95% CI 14%, 49%; 5-year NNT 32). Analyses in white women aged 30 to 54 years did not show any statistically significant treatment benefit or harm.
CONCLUSIONS
Hypertension treatment lowers the relative and absolute risk of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality in women aged 55 years and older and in African-American women of all ages. A greater effort should be made to increase awareness and treatment in these groups of women. Although relative risk reductions for cerebrovascular and cardiovascular events are similar for younger and older women, the NNT of younger women is at least 4 times higher. Decisions about treatment of hypertension in younger white women should be influenced by the individual patient's absolute risk of cardiovascular disease.
doi:10.1046/j.1525-1497.1999.12198.x
PMCID: PMC1496857  PMID: 10632816
6.  The use of propensity score methods with survival or time-to-event outcomes: reporting measures of effect similar to those used in randomized experiments 
Statistics in Medicine  2013;33(7):1242-1258.
Propensity score methods are increasingly being used to estimate causal treatment effects in observational studies. In medical and epidemiological studies, outcomes are frequently time-to-event in nature. Propensity-score methods are often applied incorrectly when estimating the effect of treatment on time-to-event outcomes. This article describes how two different propensity score methods (matching and inverse probability of treatment weighting) can be used to estimate the measures of effect that are frequently reported in randomized controlled trials: (i) marginal survival curves, which describe survival in the population if all subjects were treated or if all subjects were untreated; and (ii) marginal hazard ratios. The use of these propensity score methods allows one to replicate the measures of effect that are commonly reported in randomized controlled trials with time-to-event outcomes: both absolute and relative reductions in the probability of an event occurring can be determined. We also provide guidance on variable selection for the propensity score model, highlight methods for assessing the balance of baseline covariates between treated and untreated subjects, and describe the implementation of a sensitivity analysis to assess the effect of unmeasured confounding variables on the estimated treatment effect when outcomes are time-to-event in nature. The methods in the paper are illustrated by estimating the effect of discharge statin prescribing on the risk of death in a sample of patients hospitalized with acute myocardial infarction. In this tutorial article, we describe and illustrate all the steps necessary to conduct a comprehensive analysis of the effect of treatment on time-to-event outcomes. © 2013 The authors. Statistics in Medicine published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
doi:10.1002/sim.5984
PMCID: PMC4285179  PMID: 24122911
propensity score; observational study; propensity score matching; inverse probability of treatment weighting; survival analysis; event history analysis; confounding; marginal effects
7.  Effect of Flexible Sigmoidoscopy-Based Screening on Incidence and Mortality of Colorectal Cancer: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(12):e1001352.
A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized trials conducted by B. Joseph Elmunzer and colleagues reports that that flexible sigmoidoscopy-based screening reduces the incidence of colorectal cancer in average-risk patients, as compared to usual care or no screening.
Background
Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) have yielded varying estimates of the benefit of flexible sigmoidoscopy (FS) screening for colorectal cancer (CRC). Our objective was to more precisely estimate the effect of FS-based screening on the incidence and mortality of CRC by performing a meta-analysis of published RCTs.
Methods and Findings
Medline and Embase databases were searched for eligible articles published between 1966 and 28 May 2012. After screening 3,319 citations and 29 potentially relevant articles, two reviewers identified five RCTs evaluating the effect of FS screening on the incidence and mortality of CRC. The reviewers independently extracted relevant data; discrepancies were resolved by consensus. The quality of included studies was assessed using criteria set out by the Evidence-Based Gastroenterology Steering Group. Random effects meta-analysis was performed.
The five RCTs meeting eligibility criteria were determined to be of high methodologic quality and enrolled 416,159 total subjects. Four European studies compared FS to no screening and one study from the United States compared FS to usual care. By intention to treat analysis, FS-based screening was associated with an 18% relative risk reduction in the incidence of CRC (0.82, 95% CI 0.73–0.91, p<0.001, number needed to screen [NNS] to prevent one case of CRC = 361), a 33% reduction in the incidence of left-sided CRC (RR 0.67, 95% CI 0.59–0.76, p<0.001, NNS = 332), and a 28% reduction in the mortality of CRC (relative risk [RR] 0.72, 95% CI 0.65–0.80, p<0.001, NNS = 850). The efficacy estimate, the amount of benefit for those who actually adhered to the recommended treatment, suggested that FS screening reduced CRC incidence by 32% (p<0.001), and CRC-related mortality by 50% (p<0.001).
Limitations of this meta-analysis include heterogeneity in the design of the included trials, absence of studies from Africa, Asia, or South America, and lack of studies comparing FS with colonoscopy or stool-based testing.
Conclusions
This meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials demonstrates that FS-based screening significantly reduces the incidence and mortality of colorectal cancer in average-risk patients.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editor's Summary
Background
Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the second leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States. Regular CRC screening has been shown to reduce the risk of dying from CRC by 16%, and CRC screening can identify early stage cancers in otherwise healthy people, which allows for early treatment and management of the disease. Screening for colorectal cancer is frequently performed using a flexible sigmoidoscopy (FS), which is a thin, flexible tube with a tiny camera and light on the end, allowing a doctor to look at the inside wall of the bowel and remove any small growths or polyps. Although screening may detect early cancers, the life-saving and health benefits of screening are uncertain because the polyp may not necessarily progress. This could lead to anxiety and unnecessary interventions and treatments amongst those screened. Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) are needed to determine all of the risks involved in cancer screenings, however the guidelines that recommend FS-based screening do not rely upon RCT data. Recently, the results of four large-scale RCTs evaluating FS screening for CRC have been published. The conflicting results with respect to the incidence and mortality of CRC in these studies have called into question the effectiveness of endoscopic screening.
Why Was This Study Done?
The results of RCTs measuring the risks and outcomes of CRC screening have shown varying estimates of the benefits of using FS screening. If better estimates of the risks and benefits of FS screening are developed, then the current CRC screening guidelines may be updated to reflect this new information. In this study, the authors show the results of a meta-analysis of published RCTs, which more precisely estimates the effects of FS-based screening on the incidence and mortality of colorectal cancer.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used the Medline and Embase databases to find relevant studies from 1966 to May 28, 2012. After screening 3,319 citations and 29 potentially relevant articles, five RCTs of high methodologic quality and 416,159 total subjects evaluating the effect of FS screening on the incidence and mortality of CRC were identified. The data were extracted and random effects meta-analysis was performed. The meta-analysis revealed that FS-based screening was associated with an 18% relative risk reduction in the incidence of CRC (0.82, 95% CI 0.73–0.91, p<0.001, number needed to screen (NNS) to prevent one case of CRC = 361), a 33% reduction in the incidence of left-sided CRC (RR 0.67, 95% CI 0.59–0.76, p<0.001, NNS = 332), and a 28% reduction in the mortality of CRC (RR 0.72, 95% CI 0.65–0.80, p<0.001, NNS = 850). The amount of benefit for those who adhered to the recommended treatment suggested that FS screening reduced CRC incidence by 32% (p<0.001), and CRC-related mortality by 50% (p<0.001).
What Do These Findings Mean?
This meta-analysis of RCTs evaluating the effect of FS on CRC incidence and mortality demonstrates that a FS-based strategy for screening is very effective in reducing the incidence and mortality of CRC in patients. The current recommendations for endoscopic screening are based on observational studies, which may not accurately reflect the effect of FS-based screening on the incidence and mortality of CRC. Here, the authors performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of five recent RCTs to better estimate the true effect of FS-based screening on the incidence and mortality of CRC. Thus, the results of this meta-analysis may affect health policy, and directly impact patients and clinicians.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001352.
Cancer research UK provides comprehensive information about screening for colorectal cancers as does the UK National Screening Committee
PubMed Health has general information about colon cancer
The National Cancer Institute also has comprehensive resources on colorectal cancer and treatment
The Mayo Clinic provides an overview of all aspects of colon cancer
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001352
PMCID: PMC3514315  PMID: 23226108
8.  Greater Response to Placebo in Children Than in Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis in Drug-Resistant Partial Epilepsy 
PLoS Medicine  2008;5(8):e166.
Background
Despite guidelines establishing the need to perform comprehensive paediatric drug development programs, pivotal trials in children with epilepsy have been completed mostly in Phase IV as a postapproval replication of adult data. However, it has been shown that the treatment response in children can differ from that in adults. It has not been investigated whether differences in drug effect between adults and children might occur in the treatment of drug-resistant partial epilepsy, although such differences may have a substantial impact on the design and results of paediatric randomised controlled trials (RCTs).
Methods and Findings
Three electronic databases were searched for RCTs investigating any antiepileptic drug (AED) in the add-on treatment of drug-resistant partial epilepsy in both children and adults. The treatment effect was compared between the two age groups using the ratio of the relative risk (RR) of the 50% responder rate between active AEDs treatment and placebo groups, as well as meta-regression. Differences in the response to placebo and to active treatment were searched using logistic regression. A comparable approach was used for analysing secondary endpoints, including seizure-free rate, total and adverse events-related withdrawal rates, and withdrawal rate for seizure aggravation. Five AEDs were evaluated in both adults and children with drug-resistant partial epilepsy in 32 RCTs. The treatment effect was significantly lower in children than in adults (RR ratio: 0.67 [95% confidence interval (CI) 0.51–0.89]; p = 0.02 by meta-regression). This difference was related to an age-dependent variation in the response to placebo, with a higher rate in children than in adults (19% versus 9.9%, p < 0.001), whereas no significant difference was observed in the response to active treatment (37.2% versus 30.4%, p = 0.364). The relative risk of the total withdrawal rate was also significantly lower in children than in adults (RR ratio: 0.65 [95% CI 0.43–0.98], p = 0.004 by metaregression), due to higher withdrawal rate for seizure aggravation in children (5.6%) than in adults (0.7%) receiving placebo (p < 0.001). Finally, there was no significant difference in the seizure-free rate between adult and paediatric studies.
Conclusions
Children with drug-resistant partial epilepsy receiving placebo in double-blind RCTs demonstrated significantly greater 50% responder rate than adults, probably reflecting increased placebo and regression to the mean effects. Paediatric clinical trial designs should account for these age-dependent variations of the response to placebo to reduce the risk of an underestimated sample size that could result in falsely negative trials.
In a systematic review of antiepileptic drugs, Philippe Ryvlin and colleagues find that children with drug-resistant partial epilepsy enrolled in trials seem to have a greater response to placebo than adults enrolled in such trials.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Whenever an adult is given a drug to treat a specific condition, that drug will have been tested in “randomized controlled trials” (RCTs). In RCTs, a drug's effects are compared to those of another drug for the same condition (or to a placebo, dummy drug) by giving groups of adult patients the different treatments and measuring how well each drug deals with the condition and whether it has any other effects on the patients' health. However, many drugs given to children have only been tested in adults, the assumption being that children can safely take the same drugs as adults provided the dose is scaled down. This approach to treatment is generally taken in epilepsy, a common brain disorder in children in which disruptions in the electrical activity of part (partial epilepsy) or all (generalized epilepsy) of the brain cause seizures. The symptoms of epilepsy depend on which part of the brain is disrupted and can include abnormal sensations, loss of consciousness, or convulsions. Most but not all patients can be successfully treated with antiepileptic drugs, which reduce or stop the occurrence of seizures.
Why Was This Study Done?
It is increasingly clear that children and adults respond differently to many drugs, including antiepileptic drugs. For example, children often break down drugs differently from adults, so a safe dose for an adult may be fatal to a child even after scaling down for body size, or it may be ineffective because of quicker clearance from the child's body. Consequently, regulatory bodies around the world now require comprehensive drug development programs in children as well as in adults. However, for pediatric trials to yield useful results, the general differences in the treatment response between children and adults must first be determined and then allowed for in the design of pediatric RCTs. In this study, the researchers investigate whether there is any evidence in published RCTs for age-dependent differences in the response to antiepileptic drugs in drug-resistant partial epilepsy.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers searched the literature for reports of RCTs on the effects of antiepileptic drugs in the add-on treatment of drug-resistant partial epilepsy in children and in adults—that is, trials that compared the effects of giving an additional antiepileptic drug with those of giving a placebo by asking what fraction of patients given each treatment had a 50% reduction in seizure frequency during the treatment period compared to a baseline period (the “50% responder rate”). This “systematic review” yielded 32 RCTs, including five pediatric RCTs. The researchers then compared the treatment effect (the ratio of the 50% responder rate in the treatment arm to the placebo arm) in the two age groups using a statistical approach called “meta-analysis” to pool the results of these studies. The treatment effect, they report, was significantly lower in children than in adults. Further analysis indicated that this difference was because more children than adults responded to the placebo. Nearly 1 in 5 children had a 50% reduction in seizure rate when given a placebo compared to only 1 in 10 adults. About a third of both children and adults had a 50% reduction in seizure rate when given antiepileptic drugs.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings, although limited by the small number of pediatric trials done so far, suggest that children with drug-resistant partial epilepsy respond more strongly in RCTs to placebo than adults. Although additional studies need to be done to find an explanation for this observation and to discover whether anything similar occurs in other conditions, this difference between children and adults should be taken into account in the design of future pediatric trials on the effects of antiepileptic drugs, and possibly drugs for other conditions. Specifically, to reduce the risk of false-negative results, this finding suggests that it might be necessary to increase the size of future pediatric trials to ensure that the trials have enough power to discover effects of the drugs tested, if they exist.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0050166.
This study is further discussed in a PLoS Medicine Perspective by Terry Klassen and colleagues
The European Medicines Agency provides information about the regulation of medicines for children in Europe
The US Food and Drug Administration Office of Pediatric Therapeutics provides similar information for the US
The UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency also provides information on why medicines need to be tested in children
The MedlinePlus encyclopedia has a page on epilepsy (in English and Spanish)
The US National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke and the UK National Health Service Direct health encyclopedia both provide information on epilepsy for patients (in several languages)
Neuroscience for Kids is an educational Web site prepared by Eric Chudler (University of Washington, Seattle, US) that includes information on epilepsy and a list of links to epilepsy organizations (mainly in English but some sections in other languages as well)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0050166
PMCID: PMC2504483  PMID: 18700812
9.  Meta-analyses of Adverse Effects Data Derived from Randomised Controlled Trials as Compared to Observational Studies: Methodological Overview 
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(5):e1001026.
Su Golder and colleagues carry out an overview of meta-analyses to assess whether estimates of the risk of harm outcomes differ between randomized trials and observational studies. They find that, on average, there is no difference in the estimates of risk between overviews of observational studies and overviews of randomized trials.
Background
There is considerable debate as to the relative merits of using randomised controlled trial (RCT) data as opposed to observational data in systematic reviews of adverse effects. This meta-analysis of meta-analyses aimed to assess the level of agreement or disagreement in the estimates of harm derived from meta-analysis of RCTs as compared to meta-analysis of observational studies.
Methods and Findings
Searches were carried out in ten databases in addition to reference checking, contacting experts, citation searches, and hand-searching key journals, conference proceedings, and Web sites. Studies were included where a pooled relative measure of an adverse effect (odds ratio or risk ratio) from RCTs could be directly compared, using the ratio of odds ratios, with the pooled estimate for the same adverse effect arising from observational studies. Nineteen studies, yielding 58 meta-analyses, were identified for inclusion. The pooled ratio of odds ratios of RCTs compared to observational studies was estimated to be 1.03 (95% confidence interval 0.93–1.15). There was less discrepancy with larger studies. The symmetric funnel plot suggests that there is no consistent difference between risk estimates from meta-analysis of RCT data and those from meta-analysis of observational studies. In almost all instances, the estimates of harm from meta-analyses of the different study designs had 95% confidence intervals that overlapped (54/58, 93%). In terms of statistical significance, in nearly two-thirds (37/58, 64%), the results agreed (both studies showing a significant increase or significant decrease or both showing no significant difference). In only one meta-analysis about one adverse effect was there opposing statistical significance.
Conclusions
Empirical evidence from this overview indicates that there is no difference on average in the risk estimate of adverse effects of an intervention derived from meta-analyses of RCTs and meta-analyses of observational studies. This suggests that systematic reviews of adverse effects should not be restricted to specific study types.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Whenever patients consult a doctor, they expect the treatments they receive to be effective and to have minimal adverse effects (side effects). To ensure that this is the case, all treatments now undergo exhaustive clinical research—carefully designed investigations that test new treatments and therapies in people. Clinical investigations fall into two main groups—randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and observational, or non-randomized, studies. In RCTs, groups of patients with a specific disease or condition are randomly assigned to receive the new treatment or a control treatment, and the outcomes (for example, improvements in health and the occurrence of specific adverse effects) of the two groups of patients are compared. Because the patients are randomly chosen, differences in outcomes between the two groups are likely to be treatment-related. In observational studies, patients who are receiving a specific treatment are enrolled and outcomes in this group are compared to those in a similar group of untreated patients. Because the patient groups are not randomly chosen, differences in outcomes between cases and controls may be the result of a hidden shared characteristic among the cases rather than treatment-related (so-called confounding variables).
Why Was This Study Done?
Although data from individual trials and studies are valuable, much more information about a potential new treatment can be obtained by systematically reviewing all the evidence and then doing a meta-analysis (so-called evidence-based medicine). A systematic review uses predefined criteria to identify all the research on a treatment; meta-analysis is a statistical method for combining the results of several studies to yield “pooled estimates” of the treatment effect (the efficacy of a treatment) and the risk of harm. Treatment effect estimates can differ between RCTs and observational studies, but what about adverse effect estimates? Can different study designs provide a consistent picture of the risk of harm, or are the results from different study designs so disparate that it would be meaningless to combine them in a single review? In this methodological overview, which comprises a systematic review and meta-analyses, the researchers assess the level of agreement in the estimates of harm derived from meta-analysis of RCTs with estimates derived from meta-analysis of observational studies.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers searched literature databases and reference lists, consulted experts, and hand-searched various other sources for studies in which the pooled estimate of an adverse effect from RCTs could be directly compared to the pooled estimate for the same adverse effect from observational studies. They identified 19 studies that together covered 58 separate adverse effects. In almost all instances, the estimates of harm obtained from meta-analyses of RCTs and observational studies had overlapping 95% confidence intervals. That is, in statistical terms, the estimates of harm were similar. Moreover, in nearly two-thirds of cases, there was agreement between RCTs and observational studies about whether a treatment caused a significant increase in adverse effects, a significant decrease, or no significant change (a significant change is one unlikely to have occurred by chance). Finally, the researchers used meta-analysis to calculate that the pooled ratio of the odds ratios (a statistical measurement of risk) of RCTs compared to observational studies was 1.03. This figure suggests that there was no consistent difference between risk estimates obtained from meta-analysis of RCT data and those obtained from meta-analysis of observational study data.
What Do These Findings Mean?
The findings of this methodological overview suggest that there is no difference on average in the risk estimate of an intervention's adverse effects obtained from meta-analyses of RCTs and from meta-analyses of observational studies. Although limited by some aspects of its design, this overview has several important implications for the conduct of systematic reviews of adverse effects. In particular, it suggests that, rather than limiting systematic reviews to certain study designs, it might be better to evaluate a broad range of studies. In this way, it might be possible to build a more complete, more generalizable picture of potential harms associated with an intervention, without any loss of validity, than by evaluating a single type of study. Such a picture, in combination with estimates of treatment effects also obtained from systematic reviews and meta-analyses, would help clinicians decide the best treatment for their patients.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001026.
The US National Institutes of Health provide information on clinical research; the UK National Health Service Choices Web site also has a page on clinical trials and medical research
The Cochrane Collaboration produces and disseminates systematic reviews of health-care interventions
Medline Plus provides links to further information about clinical trials (in English and Spanish)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001026
PMCID: PMC3086872  PMID: 21559325
10.  The Effect of Alternative Summary Statistics for Communicating Risk Reduction on Decisions about Taking Statins: A Randomized Trial 
PLoS Medicine  2009;6(8):e1000134.
Carling and colleagues carry out a trial evaluating different methods of communicating information to people regarding the risks and benefits of taking statins. They suggest that natural frequencies are likely to be the most appropriate summary statistic for presenting the effects of treatment.
Background
While different ways of presenting treatment effects can affect health care decisions, little is known about which presentations best help people make decisions consistent with their own values. We compared six summary statistics for communicating coronary heart disease (CHD) risk reduction with statins: relative risk reduction and five absolute summary measures—absolute risk reduction, number needed to treat, event rates, tablets needed to take, and natural frequencies.
Methods and Findings
We conducted a randomized trial to determine which presentation resulted in choices most consistent with participants' values. We recruited adult volunteers who participated through an interactive Web site. Participants rated the relative importance of outcomes using visual analogue scales (VAS). We then randomized participants to one of the six summary statistics and asked them to choose whether to take statins based on this information. We calculated a relative importance score (RIS) by subtracting the VAS scores for the downsides of taking statins from the VAS score for CHD. We used logistic regression to determine the association between participants' RIS and their choice. 2,978 participants completed the study. Relative risk reduction resulted in a 21% higher probability of choosing to take statins over all values of RIS compared to the absolute summary statistics. This corresponds to a number needed to treat (NNT) of 5; i.e., for every five participants shown the relative risk reduction one additional participant chose to take statins, compared to the other summary statistics. There were no significant differences among the absolute summary statistics in the association between RIS and participants' decisions whether to take statins. Natural frequencies were best understood (86% reported they understood them well or very well), and participants were most satisfied with this information.
Conclusions
Presenting the benefits of taking statins as a relative risk reduction increases the likelihood of people accepting treatment compared to presenting absolute summary statistics, independent of the relative importance they attach to the consequences. Natural frequencies may be the most suitable summary statistic for presenting treatment effects, based on self-reported preference, understanding of and satisfaction with the information, and confidence in the decision.
Clinical Trials Registration
ISRCTN85194921
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
People often have to make decisions about their health care. Ideally, all the health care decisions that a person makes should be those best suited to his or her personal circumstances and expectations. Take, for example, someone with a high amount of cholesterol (a type of fat) in his or her blood. Because this condition increases the chances of developing potentially fatal coronary heart disease (CHD), such a person will often be advised by his or her doctor to take statins to reduce blood cholesterol levels. However, the person needs to consider both the benefits and downsides of this course of action. Can he or she afford to pay for statins, if their health care system requires him or her to? Does the person want to take a pill every day that might cause some side effects? That is, the person has to consider his or her “values”—the relative desirability of all the possible outcomes of taking statins—before deciding whether to follow his or her doctor's advice.
Why Was This Study Done?
It is well known that how information is presented to patients about treatment options and their consequences affects the choices that they make. For example, patients who are told that a drug will halve their chances of developing a disease (a 50% relative risk reduction) are more likely to decide to take that drug than those who are told it will reduce their absolute (actual) risk of developing the disease from 4% to 2%. Less is known, however, about which presentations of treatment effects best help people to make decisions that are consistent with their own values. In 2002, therefore, a series of internet-based randomized trials (studies in which participants are randomly allocated to different “treatment” groups) called the Health Information Project: Presentation Online (HIPPO) was initiated. Here, the researchers describe HIPPO 2, a trial that investigates how alternative summary statistics for communicating the reduction of CHD risk with statins affect people's decisions to take statins.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
Nearly 3,000 adults in Norway and North America rated the relative importance to them of CHD risk reduction, the cost of statins, and the need to take a daily pill through an interactive Web site. The researchers used these data to calculate a “relative importance score” (RIS), an indicator of each participant's values. Each participant then decided whether or not to take statins after being shown one of six summary statistics about the effect of statins on CHD risk (relative risk reduction and five indicators of absolute risk reduction). The presentation of the effect of statins as a relative risk reduction resulted in more people deciding to take statins over the whole RIS range than any of the absolute summary statistics. For every five participants shown the relative risk reduction statistic, an extra participant chose to take statins compared to the other summary statistics. When asked to compare the six summary statistics, the statistic that most people preferred and understood best was the “natural frequency,” an absolute summary statistic that gave the number of people likely to develop CHD with and without statin treatment.
What Do These Findings Mean?
Although these findings may not be generalizable to other populations or to other medical decisions, they provide new insights into how the presentation of information can affect the choices people make about health care. Specifically, these findings indicate that the presentation of the reduced risk of getting CHD as a result of taking stains as a relative amount is more likely to persuade people to take statins than several absolute summary statistics. They also suggest that the persuasive effect of the relative risk reduction summary statistic is not affected by the relative importance attached to the consequences of taking statins by individuals. That is, people shown the relative risk reduction statistic may be more likely to start statins to reduce their CHD risk (or a drug that reduces the risk of developing another disease) whatever their personal values than people shown absolute summary statistics. Finally, the findings on participant preferences suggest that natural frequencies may be the best summary statistic to include in tools designed to help people make decisions about their healthcare.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000134.
A PLoS Medicine Editorial discusses this trial and the results of another HIPPO trial that are presented in a separate PLoS Medicine Research Article by Carling and colleagues; details of a pilot HIPPO trial are also available
The Foundation for Informed Medical Decision Making (a US-based non-profit organization) provides information on many aspects of medical decision making
The Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center provides information to help people make health care decisions through its Center for Shared Decision Making
The Ottawa Hospital Research Institute provides also information on patient decision aids, including an inventory of decision aids available on the Web (in English and French)
MedlinePlus provides links to information and advice about statins and about coronary heart disease (in English and Spanish)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000134
PMCID: PMC2724738  PMID: 19707575
11.  Carbamazepine for acute and chronic pain in adults 
Background
Carbamazepine is used to treat chronic neuropathic pain.
Objectives
Evaluation of analgesic efficacy and adverse effects of carbamazepine for acute and chronic pain management (except headaches).
Search methods
Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) of carbamazepine in acute, chronic or cancer pain were identified, searching MEDLINE, EMBASE, SIGLE and Cochrane CENTRAL to June 2010, reference lists of retrieved papers, and reviews.
Selection criteria
RCTs reporting the analgesic effects of carbamazepine.
Data collection and analysis
Two authors independently extracted results and scored for quality. Numbers needed to treat to benefit (NNT) or harm (NNH) with 95% confidence intervals (CI) were calculated from dichotomous data for effectiveness, adverse effects and adverse event withdrawal. Issues of study quality, size, duration, and outcomes were examined.
Main results
Fifteen included studies (12 cross-over design; three parallel-group) with 629 participants.
Carbamazepine was less effective than prednisolone in preventing postherpetic neuralgia following acute herpes zoster (1 study, 40 participants). No studies examined acute postoperative pain.
Fourteen studies investigated chronic neuropathic pain: two lasted eight weeks, others were four weeks or less (mean 3 weeks, median 2 weeks). Five had low reporting quality. Ten involved fewer than 50 participants; mean and median maximum treatment group sizes were 34 and 29. Outcome reporting was inconsistent.
Most placebo controlled studies indicated that carbamazepine was better than placebo. Five studies with 298 participants provided dichotomous results; 70% improved with carbamazepine and 12% with placebo. Carbamazepine at any dose, using any definition of improvement was significantly better than placebo (70% versus 12% improved; 5 studies, 298 participants); relative benefit 6.1 (3.9 to 9.7), NNT 1.7 (1.5 to 2.0). Four studies (188 participants) reporting outcomes equivalent to 50% pain reduction or more over baseline had a similar NNT.
With carbamazepine, 66% of participants experienced at least one adverse event, and 27% with placebo; relative risk 2.4 (1.9 to 3.1), NNH 2.6 (2.1 to 3.5). Adverse event withdrawals occurred in12 of 323 participants (4%) with carbamazepine and 0 of 310 with placebo. Serious adverse events were not reported consistently; rashes were associated with carbamazepine. Five deaths occurred in patients on carbamazepine, with no obvious drug association.
Authors’ conclusions
Carbamazepine is effective in chronic neuropathic pain, with caveats. No trial was longer than four weeks, of good reporting quality, using outcomes equivalent to at least moderate clinical benefit. In these circumstances, caution is needed in interpretation, and meaningful comparison with other interventions is not possible.
doi:10.1002/14651858.CD005451.pub2
PMCID: PMC4160789  PMID: 21249671
Acute Disease; Analgesics, Non-Narcotic [adverse effects; *therapeutic use]; Anticonvulsants [adverse effects; therapeutic use]; Carbamazepine [adverse effects; *therapeutic use]; Chronic Disease; Neuralgia [drug therapy]; Neuralgia, Postherpetic [drug therapy]; Pain [*drug therapy]; Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic; Adult; Humans
12.  Olanzapine versus other atypical antipsychotics for schizophrenia 
Background
In many countries of the industrialised world second generation (“atypical”) antipsychotics have become the first line drug treatment for people with schizophrenia. The question as to whether, and if so how much, the effects of the various second generation antipsychotics differ is a matter of debate. In this review we examined how the efficacy and tolerability of olanzapine differs from that of other second generation antipsychotics.
Objectives
To evaluate the effects of olanzapine compared to other atypical antipsychotics for people with schizophrenia and schizophrenia-like psychosis.
Search methods
1. Electronic searching
We searched the Cochrane Schizophrenia Group Trials Register (April 2007) which is based on regular searches of BIOSIS, CENTRAL, CINAHL, EMBASE, MEDLINE and PsycINFO.
2. Reference searching
We inspected the reference of all identified studies for more trials.
3. Personal contact
We contacted the first author of each included study for missing information.
4. Drug companies
We contacted the manufacturers of all atypical antipsychotics included for additional data.
Selection criteria
We included all randomised trials that used at least single-blind (rater-blind) design, comparing oral olanzapine with oral forms of amisulpride, aripiprazole, clozapine, quetiapine, risperidone, sertindole, ziprasidone or zotepine in people with schizophrenia or schizophrenia-like psychosis.
Data collection and analysis
We extracted data independently. For dichotomous data we calculated relative risks (RR) and their 95% confidence intervals (CI) on an intention-to-treat basis based on a random effects model. We calculated numbers needed to treat/harm (NNT/NNH) where appropriate. For continuous data, we calculated weighted mean differences (WMD) again based on a random effects model.
Main results
The review currently includes 50 studies and 9476 participants which provided data for six comparisons (olanzapine compared to amisulpride, aripiprazole, clozapine, quetiapine, risperidone or ziprasidone). The overall attrition from the included studies was considerable (49.2%) leaving the interpretation of results problematic.
Olanzapine improved the general mental state (PANSS total score) more than aripiprazole (2 RCTs, n=794, WMD −4.96 CI −8.06 to −1.85), quetiapine (10 RCTs, n=1449, WMD −3.66 CI −5.39 to −1.93), risperidone (15 RCTs, n=2390, WMD −1.94 CI −3.31 to −0.58) and ziprasidone (4 RCTs, n=1291, WMD −8.32 CI −10.99 to −5.64), but not more than amisulpride or clozapine. This somewhat better efficacy was confirmed by fewer participants in the olanzapine groups leaving the studies early due to inefficacy of treatment compared to quetiapine (8 RCTs, n=1563, RR 0.56 CI 0.44 to 0.70, NNT 11 CI 6 to 50), risperidone (14 RCTs, n=2744, RR 0.78 CI 0.62 to 0.98, NNT 50 CI 17 to 100) and ziprasidone (5 RCTs, n=1937, RR 0.64 CI 0.51 to 0.79, NNT 17, CI 11 to 33).
Fewer participants in the olanzapine group than in the quetiapine (2 RCTs, n=876, RR 0.56 CI 0.41 to 0.77, NNT 11 CI 7 to 25) and ziprasidone (2 RCTs, n=766, RR 0.65 CI 0.45 to 0.93, NNT 17 CI 9 to 100) treatment groups, but not in the clozapine group (1 RCT, n=980, RR 1.28 CI 1.02 to 1.61, NNH not estimable), had to be re-hospitalised in the trials.
Except for clozapine, all comparators induced less weight gain than olanzapine (olanzapine compared to amisulpride: 3 RCTs, n=671, WMD 2.11kg CI 1.29kg to 2.94kg; aripiprazole: 1 RCT, n=90, WMD 5.60kg CI 2.15kg to 9.05kg; quetiapine: 7 RCTs, n=1173, WMD 2.68kg CI 1.10kg to 4.26kg; risperidone: 13 RCTs, n=2116, WMD 2.61kg CI 1.48kg to 3.74kg; ziprasidone: 5 RCTs, n=1659, WMD 3.82kg CI 2.96kg to 4.69kg). Associated problems such as glucose and cholesterol increase were usually also more frequent in the olanzapine group.
Other differences in adverse effects were less well documented. Nevertheless, olanzapine may be associated with slightly more extrapyramidal side effects than quetiapine (use of antiparkinson medication (6 RCTs, n=1090, RR 2.05 CI 1.26 to 3.32, NNH 25 CI 14 to 100), but less than risperidone (use of antiparkinson medication 13 RCTs, n=2599, RR 0.78 CI 0.65 to 0.95, NNH 17 CI 9 to 100) and ziprasidone (use of antiparkinson medication 4 RCTs, n=1732, RR 0.70 CI 0.50 to 0.97, NNH not estimable). It may also increase prolactin somewhat more than aripiprazole, clozapine and quetiapine, but clearly less so than risperidone (6 RCTs, n=1291, WMD −22.84 CI −27.98 to −17.69).
Authors’ conclusions
Olanzapine may be a somewhat more efficacious drug than some other second generation antipsychotic drugs. This small superiority in efficacy needs to be weighed against a larger weight gain and associated metabolic problems than most other second generation antipsychotic drugs, except clozapine. These conclusions are tentative due to the large number of people leaving the studies early which possibly limits the validity of the findings. Further large, well-designed trials are necessary to establish the relative effects of different second generation antipsychotic drugs.
doi:10.1002/14651858.CD006654.pub2
PMCID: PMC4169107  PMID: 20238348
Antipsychotic Agents [adverse effects; *therapeutic use]; Benzodiazepines [*therapeutic use]; Clozapine [therapeutic use]; Dibenzothiazepines [therapeutic use]; Piperazines [therapeutic use]; Quinolones [therapeutic use]; Risperidone [therapeutic use]; Schizophrenia [*drug therapy]; Sulpiride [analogs & derivatives; therapeutic use]; Thiazoles [therapeutic use]; Humans
13.  Foot Orthoses in Lower Limb Overuse Conditions: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis—Critical Appraisal and Commentary 
Journal of Athletic Training  2011;46(1):103-106.
Abstract
Reference/Citation:
Collins N, Bisset L, McPoil T, Vicenzino B. Foot orthoses in lower limb overuse conditions: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Foot Ankle Int. 2007;28(3):396–412.
Clinical Question:
Among patients with or at risk for musculoskeletal overuse conditions, (1) do foot orthoses provide clinically meaningful improvements, and (2) are foot orthoses cost-effective?
Data Sources:
Studies published through September 28, 2005, were identified by using MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL and Pre-CINAHL, Physiotherapy Evidence Database (PEDro), PubMed, SPORTDiscus, Biological Abstracts, Web of Science, Allied Health and Complementary Medicine Database, and the full Cochrane Library. The authors did not provide the search strategy used. Reference lists of included randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and identified systematic reviews were searched by hand.
Study Selection:
Studies were included if (1) they were RCTs that included the use of foot orthoses (either custom or prefabricated) in 1 of the intervention groups, (2) the clinical problem was an overuse condition as defined by the American College of Foot and Ankle Orthopedics and Medicine guidelines for which foot orthoses were recommended, and (3) at least 1 clinically relevant outcome was measured for a minimum of 1 week. Limits were not placed on year of publication, status of publication, or language.
Data Extraction:
The journal, authors, and author affiliations of included RCTs were masked from 2 of the reviewers who independently assessed the included RCTs for methodologic quality using a modified PEDro scale plus 3 additional items (justification of sample size, use of outcome measures with known validity and reliability, and reporting of adverse or side effects). Disagreements on methodologic quality were resolved with consensus or by a third reviewer. The effect sizes for the included RCTs were represented by relative risk (RR) for dichotomous outcomes and standardized mean difference (SMD) for continuous data. Confidence intervals (CIs) were reported for RR and SMD. Study data were extracted directly from each of the included studies. If provided, data from intention-to-treat analysis were extracted. Study authors were contacted when insufficient data were reported. A meta-analysis (random-effects model) was conducted using Review Manager (version 4.2; The Nordic Cochrane Centre, Copenhagen, Denmark).
Main Results:
The search identified 3192 potentially relevant studies. Full articles were retrieved for 327 studies. Twenty-two of the 327 studies met the inclusion criteria. Because the authors of 1 study used the same methods to report on 2 populations, a total of 23 RCTs were included in the systematic review. Prevention of lower limb overuse conditions with the use of foot orthoses was reported in 8 RCTs (7 studies). The effect of foot orthoses in the treatment of lower limb overuse conditions was reported in 15 RCTs. Of the 23 RCTs, the cost-effectiveness of foot orthoses was reported in 2 and the adverse effects of foot orthoses were reported in 8. Across the prevention RCTs, data were available for analysis for a range of 47 to 417 participants with 8 to 16 weeks of follow-up. Based on 4 RCTs in which the researchers examined prevention of lower limb overuse conditions with foot orthoses versus control in military personnel, the RR was 1.49 (95% CI  =  1.07, 2.08). A clinically beneficial effect size was set a priori at 1.5 or greater for the foot-orthoses group or at 0.7 or less for the comparison group. Based on 2 RCTs reported in 1 study of the use of custom versus prefabricated foot orthoses for prevention of lower limb overuse conditions, no significant difference in risk was found (RR  =  1.14, 95% CI  =  0.90, 1.44). In their calculating and reporting of RR, the authors do not appear to have followed convention. Across the treatment RCTs, data were available for analysis for a range of 18 to 133 participants with 8 to 52 weeks of follow-up. The authors of the treatment RCTs reported a variety of outcome measures. Two of these, patient-perceived treatment effect (PPE) and pain on the visual analog scale (VAS), were used to calculate an overall treatment effect (PPE as RR and VAS as SMD). Based on 2 RCTs examining foot orthoses versus control, no significant difference in PPE was found (RR  =  1.01, 95% CI  =  0.61, 1.68). Based on 2 RCTs in which custom versus prefabricated foot orthoses were examined, no significant difference in PPE was found (RR  =  0.88, 95% CI  =  0.42, 1.81). The VAS data reported in the text appear to contradict the VAS data reported in Figure 2 for foot orthoses versus control for the treatment of lower limb overuse conditions. Specifically, the lower limit of the CI in the text was negative (−0.28) and in Figure 2 was positive. Because of this apparent contradiction, we did not interpret these data. Authors of 2 RCTs reported cost-effectiveness, but the data could not be pooled. Adverse events were reported in 8 of the 22 studies. The most common adverse effect reported was discomfort, which was the main reason for discontinuing foot-orthoses use in 2 studies.
Conclusions:
The evidence supports the use of foot orthoses to prevent a first occurrence of lower limb overuse conditions and shows no difference between custom and prefabricated foot orthoses. The evidence was insufficient to recommend foot orthoses (custom or prefabricated) for the treatment of lower limb overuse conditions.
doi:10.4085/1062-6050-46.1.103
PMCID: PMC3017481  PMID: 21214358
overuse injuries; foot orthotics
14.  Clozapine versus other atypical antipsychotics for schizophrenia 
Background
Clozapine is an atypical antipsychotic demonstrated to be superior in the treatment of refractory schizophrenia which causes fewer movement disorders. Clozapine, however, entails a significant risk of serious blood disorders such as agranulocytosis which could be potentially fatal. Currently there are a number of newer antipsychotics which have been developed with the purpose to find both a better tolerability profile and a superior effectiveness.
Objectives
To compare the clinical effects of clozapine with other atypical antipsychotics (such as amisulpride, aripiprazole, olanzapine, quetiapine, risperidone, sertindole, ziprasidone and zotepine) in the treatment of schizophrenia and schizophrenia-like psychoses.
Search methods
We searched the Cochrane Schizophrenia Groups Register (June 2007) and reference lists of all included randomised controlled trials. We also manually searched appropriate journals and conference proceedings relating to clozapine combination strategies and contacted relevant pharmaceutical companies.
Selection criteria
All relevant randomised, at least single-blind trials, comparing clozapine with other atypical antipsychotics, any dose and oral formulations, for people with schizophrenia or related disorders.
Data collection and analysis
We selected trials and extracted data independently. For dichotomous data we calculated relative risks (RR) and their 95% confidence intervals (CI) based on a random-effects model. We calculated numbers needed to treat/harm (NNT/NNH) where appropriate. For continuous data, we calculated mean differences (MD) again based on a random-effects model.
Main results
The review currently includes 27 blinded randomised controlled trials, which involved 3099 participants. Twelve randomised control trials compared clozapine with olanzapine, five with quetiapine, nine with risperidone, one with ziprasidone and two with zotepine. Attrition from these studies was high (overall 30.1%), leaving the interpretation of results problematic. Clozapine had a higher attrition rate due to adverse effects than olanzapine (9 RCTs, n=1674, RR 1.60 CI 1.07 to 2.40, NNT 25 CI 15 to 73) and risperidone (6 RCTs, n=627, RR 1.88 CI 1.11 to 3.21, NNT 16 CI 9 to 59). Fewer participants in the clozapine groups left the trials early due to inefficacy than risperidone (6 RCTs, n=627, RR 0.40 CI 0.23 to 0.70, NNT 11 CI 7 to 21), suggesting a certain higher efficacy of clozapine.
Clozapine was more efficacious than zotepine in improving the participants general mental state (BPRS total score: 1 RCT, n=59, MD −6.00 CI −9.83 to −2.17), but not consistently more than olanzapine, quetiapine, risperidone and ziprasidone. There was no significant difference between clozapine and olanzapine or risperidone in terms of positive or negative symptoms of schizophrenia. According to two studies from China quetiapine was more efficacious for negative symptoms than clozapine (2 RCTs, n=142, MD 2.23 CI 0.99 to 3.48).
Clozapine produced somewhat fewer extrapyramidal side-effects than risperidone (use of antiparkinson medication: 6 RCTs, n=304, RR 0.39 CI 0.22 to 0.68, NNT 7 CI 5 to 18) and zotepine (n=59, RR 0.05 CI 0.00 to 0.86, NNT 3 CI 2 to 5). More participants in the clozapine group showed decreased white blood cells than those taking olanzapine, more hypersalivation and sedation than those on olanzapine, risperidone and quetiapine and more seizures than people on olanzapine and risperidone. Also clozapine produced an important weight gain not seen with risperidone.
Other differences in adverse effects were less documented and should be replicated, for example, clozapine did not alter prolactin levels whereas olanzapine, risperidone and zotepine did; compared with quetiapine, clozapine produced a higher incidence of electrocardiogram (ECG) alterations; and compared with quetiapine and risperidone clozapine produced a higher increase of triglyceride levels. Other findings that should be replicated were: clozapine improved social functioning less than risperidone and fewer participants in the clozapine group had to be hospitalised to avoid suicide attempts compared to olanzapine.
Other important outcomes such as service use, cognitive functioning, satisfaction with care or quality of life were rarely reported.
Authors’ conclusions
Clozapine may be a little more efficacious than zotepine and risperidone but further trials are required to confirm this finding. Clozapine differs more clearly in adverse effects from other second generation antipsychotics and the side-effect profile could be key in the selection of treatment depending on the clinical situation and a patient’s preferences. Data on other important outcomes such as cognitive functioning, quality of life, death or service use are currently largely missing, making further large and well-designed trials necessary. It is also important to take into account that the large number of people leaving the studies early limits the validity and interpretation of our findings.
doi:10.1002/14651858.CD006633.pub2
PMCID: PMC4169186  PMID: 21069690
Antipsychotic Agents [* therapeutic use]; Benzodiazepines [therapeutic use]; Clozapine [* therapeutic use]; Dibenzothiazepines [therapeutic use]; Dibenzothiepins [therapeutic use]; Piperazines [therapeutic use]; Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic; Risperidone [therapeutic use]; Schizophrenia [* drug therapy]; Thiazoles [therapeutic use]; Humans
15.  Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation as an augmentative strategy for treatment-resistant depression, a meta-analysis of randomized, double-blind and sham-controlled study 
BMC Psychiatry  2014;14(1):342.
Background
Dozens of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and meta-analyses have demonstrated the efficacy of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) for major depressive disorder (MDD) treatment, but there has not been a meta-analysis report which evaluates the efficacy and tolerability of rTMS used as an augmentative strategy for antidepressants in treatment-resistant depression (TRD) treatment. We thus conducted this meta-analysis, aimed at clarifying whether rTMS enhances the efficacy of TRD.
Methods
We searched MEDLINE and Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials for RCTs for studying the efficacy of rTMS versus (vs) sham condition when combined with antidepressants in TRD treatment, and screened the references of the previous meta-analysis about the rTMS for MDD treatment. Response rates and NNT were chose as the primary outcomes, and remission rates, change from baseline of HAMD scores, dropouts were used as secondary outcomes. For dichotomous data, an intention-to-treat analysis principle was applied; for continuous data, we calculated the standard mean difference between groups with a random-effect model. Sensitivity analysis was done to explore the source of heterogeneity and the factors which potentially impact the efficacy.
Results
Seven RCTs were finally included in the meta-analysis. The total sample size was 279, with 171 in the rTMS group and 108 in the sham group. The pooled response and remission rate for the rTMS and sham group was 46.6% and 22.1%, respectively; the pooled odds ratio (OR) was 5.12 [95% confidence interval (CI) 2.11-12.45, z = 3.60, p = 0.0003, and the associated number needed to treat (NNT) was 3.4. rTMS group achieved a significant reduction of HAMD score than the sham group, the pooled SMD of change from baseline was 0.86 [95% confidence interval (CI) 0.57-1.15, z = 5.75, p < 0.00001]. Because of the small number of included RCTs, the preplanned sensitivity and subgroup analyses were finally abandoned. The dropouts in both groups were relatively low, indicating the high acceptability of rTMS.
Conclusions
For TRD patients, augmentative rTMS after the failure of medications significantly increases the effect of antidepressants, and rTMS was a safe strategy with relatively low adverse events and low dropout rate, suggesting that augmentative rTMS is an effective intervention for TRD.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12888-014-0342-4) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12888-014-0342-4
PMCID: PMC4264336  PMID: 25433539
Transcranial magnetic stimulation; Depression; Treatment-resistant
16.  A Comparison of Cost Effectiveness Using Data from Randomized Trials or Actual Clinical Practice: Selective Cox-2 Inhibitors as an Example 
PLoS Medicine  2009;6(12):e1000194.
Tjeerd-Pieter van Staa and colleagues estimate the likely cost effectiveness of selective Cox-2 inhibitors prescribed during routine clinical practice, as compared to the cost effectiveness predicted from randomized controlled trial data.
Background
Data on absolute risks of outcomes and patterns of drug use in cost-effectiveness analyses are often based on randomised clinical trials (RCTs). The objective of this study was to evaluate the external validity of published cost-effectiveness studies by comparing the data used in these studies (typically based on RCTs) to observational data from actual clinical practice. Selective Cox-2 inhibitors (coxibs) were used as an example.
Methods and Findings
The UK General Practice Research Database (GPRD) was used to estimate the exposure characteristics and individual probabilities of upper gastrointestinal (GI) events during current exposure to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or coxibs. A basic cost-effectiveness model was developed evaluating two alternative strategies: prescription of a conventional NSAID or coxib. Outcomes included upper GI events as recorded in GPRD and hospitalisation for upper GI events recorded in the national registry of hospitalisations (Hospital Episode Statistics) linked to GPRD. Prescription costs were based on the prescribed number of tables as recorded in GPRD and the 2006 cost data from the British National Formulary. The study population included over 1 million patients prescribed conventional NSAIDs or coxibs. Only a minority of patients used the drugs long-term and daily (34.5% of conventional NSAIDs and 44.2% of coxibs), whereas coxib RCTs required daily use for at least 6–9 months. The mean cost of preventing one upper GI event as recorded in GPRD was US$104k (ranging from US$64k with long-term daily use to US$182k with intermittent use) and US$298k for hospitalizations. The mean costs (for GPRD events) over calendar time were US$58k during 1990–1993 and US$174k during 2002–2005. Using RCT data rather than GPRD data for event probabilities, the mean cost was US$16k with the VIGOR RCT and US$20k with the CLASS RCT.
Conclusions
The published cost-effectiveness analyses of coxibs lacked external validity, did not represent patients in actual clinical practice, and should not have been used to inform prescribing policies. External validity should be an explicit requirement for cost-effectiveness analyses.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Before a new treatment for a specific disease becomes an established part of clinical practice, it goes through a long process of development and clinical testing. This process starts with extensive studies of the new treatment in the laboratory and in animals and then moves into clinical trials. The most important of these trials are randomized controlled trials (RCTs), studies in which the efficacy and safety of the new drug and an established drug are compared by giving the two drugs to randomized groups of patients with the disease. The final hurdle that a drug or any other healthcare technology often has to jump before being adopted for widespread clinical use is a health technology assessment, which aims to provide policymakers, clinicians, and patients with information about the balance between the clinical and financial costs of the drug and its benefits (its cost-effectiveness). In England and Wales, for example, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), which promotes clinical excellence and the effective use of resources within the National Health Service, routinely commissions such assessments.
Why Was This Study Done?
Data on the risks of various outcomes associated with a new treatment are needed for cost-effectiveness analyses. These data are usually obtained from RCTs, but although RCTs are the best way of determining a drug's potency in experienced hands under ideal conditions (its efficacy), they may not be a good way to determine a drug's success in an average clinical setting (its effectiveness). In this study, the researchers compare the data from RCTs that have been used in several published cost-effectiveness analyses of a class of drugs called selective cyclooxygenase-2 inhibitors (“coxibs”) with observational data from actual clinical practice. They then ask whether the published cost-effectiveness studies, which generally used RCT data, should have been used to inform coxib prescribing policies. Coxibs are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) that were developed in the 1990s to treat arthritis and other chronic inflammatory conditions. Conventional NSAIDs can cause gastric ulcers and bleeding from the gut (upper gastrointestinal events) if taken for a long time. The use of coxibs avoids this problem.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers extracted data on the real-life use of conventional NSAIDs and coxibs and on the incidence of upper gastrointestinal events from the UK General Practice Research Database (GPRD) and from the national registry of hospitalizations. Only a minority of the million patients who were prescribed conventional NSAIDs (average cost per prescription US$17.80) or coxibs (average cost per prescription US$47.04) for a variety of inflammatory conditions took them on a long-term daily basis, whereas in the RCTs of coxibs, patients with a few carefully defined conditions took NSAIDs daily for at least 6–9 months. The researchers then developed a cost-effectiveness model to evaluate the costs of the alternative strategies of prescribing a conventional NSAID or a coxib. The mean additional cost of preventing one gastrointestinal event recorded in the GPRD by using a coxib instead of a NSAID, they report, was US$104,000; the mean cost of preventing one hospitalization for such an event was US$298,000. By contrast, the mean cost of preventing one gastrointestinal event by using a coxib instead of a NSAID calculated from data obtained in RCTs was about US$20,000.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that the published cost-effectiveness analyses of coxibs greatly underestimate the cost of preventing gastrointestinal events by replacing prescriptions of conventional NSAIDs with prescriptions of coxibs. That is, if data from actual clinical practice had been used in cost-effectiveness analyses rather than data from RCTs, the conclusions of the published cost-effectiveness analyses of coxibs would have been radically different and may have led to different prescribing guidelines for this class of drug. More generally, these findings provide a good illustration of how important it is to ensure that cost-effectiveness analyses have “external” validity by using realistic estimates for event rates and costs rather than relying on data from RCTs that do not always reflect the real-world situation. The researchers suggest, therefore, that health technology assessments should move from evaluating cost-efficacy in ideal populations with ideal interventions to evaluating cost-effectiveness in real populations with real interventions.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000194.
The UK National Institute for Health Research provides information about health technology assessment
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence Web site describes how this organization provides guidance on promoting good health within the England and Wales National Health Service
Information on the UK General Practice Research Database is available
Wikipedia has pages on health technology assessment and on selective cyclooxygenase-2 inhibitors (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000194
PMCID: PMC2779340  PMID: 19997499
17.  Single dose oral ketoprofen and dexketoprofen for acute postoperative pain in adults 
Background
Ketoprofen is a non-selective non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) used to treat acute and chronic painful conditions. Dexketoprofen is the (S)-enantiomer, which is believed to confer analgesia. Theoretically dexketoprofen is expected to provide equivalent analgesia to ketoprofen at half the dose, with a consequent reduction in gastrointestinal adverse events.
Objectives
To assess efficacy, duration of action, and associated adverse events of single dose oral ketoprofen and dexketoprofen in acute postoperative pain in adults.
Search methods
We searched Cochrane CENTRAL, MEDLINE, EMBASE and the Oxford Pain Relief Database for studies to August 2009.
Selection criteria
Randomised, double blind, placebo-controlled trials of single dose orally administered ketoprofen and dexketoprofen in adults with moderate to severe acute postoperative pain.
Data collection and analysis
Two review authors independently assessed trial quality and extracted data. Pain relief or pain intensity data were extracted and converted into the dichotomous outcome of number of participants with at least 50% pain relief over 4 to 6 hours, from which relative risk and number-needed-to-treat-to-benefit (NNT) were calculated. Numbers of participants using rescue medication over specified time periods, and time to use of rescue medication, were sought as additional measures of efficacy. Information on adverse events and withdrawals was collected.
Main results
Fourteen studies compared ketoprofen (968 participants) at mainly 25 mg and 50 mg with placebo (520 participants). Seven studies compared dexketoprofen (681 participants) at mainly 10 mg to 25 mg with placebo (289 participants). Studies were of adequate reporting quality, and participants had pain following dental, orthopaedic, obstetric, gynaecological and general surgery. There was considerable clinical heterogeneity between studies in dental and other types of surgery, particularly bunionectomy, which limited analysis.
Ketoprofen at doses between 12.5 mg and 100 mg produced NNTs for at least 50% pain relief over 4 to 6 hours of 2.4 to 3.3. For dental studies only there was a trend to more efficacy at higher doses, with NNT decreasing from 2.4 at 12.5 mg to 1.6 at 100 mg. Dexketoprofen at doses of 10/12.5 mg and 20/25 mg produced NNTs for at least 50% pain relief over 4 to 6 hours of 3.2 and 3.6, with no obvious dose response. Significantly fewer participants used rescue medication with ketoprofen and dexketoprofen than placebo. The median time to remedication was about 5 hours with ketoprofen and 4 hours with dexketoprofen. The expected equivalent efficacy with a half dose of dexketoprofen compared to ketoprofen was not demonstrated.
Adverse events were uncommon with both drugs, and not significantly different from placebo.
Authors’ conclusions
Ketoprofen at doses of 25 mg to 100 mg is an effective analgesic in moderate to severe acute postoperative pain with an NNT for at least 50% pain relief of 3.3 with a 50 mg dose. This is similar to that of commonly used NSAIDs such as ibuprofen (NNT 2.5 for 400 mg dose) and diclofenac (NNT 2.7 at 50 mg dose). Duration of action is about 5 hours. Dexketoprofen is also effective with NNTs of 3.2 to 3.6 in the dose range 10 mg to 25 mg. Both drugs were well tolerated in single doses.
doi:10.1002/14651858.CD007355.pub2
PMCID: PMC4171124  PMID: 19821407
Acute Disease; Administration, Oral; Analgesics, Non-Narcotic [* administration & dosage]; Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal [* administration & dosage]; Ketoprofen [* administration & dosage; * analogs & derivatives]; Pain, Postoperative [* drug therapy]; Stereoisomerism; Adult; Humans
18.  Intra-Articular Viscosupplementation With Hylan G-F 20 To Treat Osteoarthritis of the Knee 
Executive Summary
Objective
To assess the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of hylan G-F 20 as a substitute for existing treatments for pain due to osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee, other viscosupplementation devices, and/or as an adjunct to conventional therapy.
Hylan G-F 20 (brand name Synvisc, which is manufactured by Genzyme) is a high molecular weight derivative of hyaluronan, a component of joint synovial fluid. It acts as a lubricant and shock absorber. It is administered by injection into the joint space to treat pain associated with OA of the knee. Although the injection procedure is an insured service in Ontario, the device, hylan G-F 20, is not.
Clinical Need
Osteoarthritis is prevalent in 10% to 12% of Ontario adults, and exceeds 40% in Ontario residents aged 65 years and older. About one-half of these people have mild, moderate, or severe OA of the knee. Conventional treatment involves a combination of nonpharmacological management (e.g., weight loss, exercise, social support, and patient education), drugs, (e.g., acetaminophen, COX-2 inhibitors, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs with/without misoprostol, intra-articular glucocorticoids, opioids, and topical analgesics) and surgical interventions, such as debridement and total knee replacement, when pharmacological management fails.
The growing burden of OA of the knee in the aging Ontario population combined with recent safety concerns about COX-2 inhibitors and long wait times for total joint replacement is placing pressure on the demand for new, effective technologies to manage the pain of OA.
The Technology
Hylan G-F 20 is derived from rooster comb hyaluronan (HA). At the time of writing, eight viscosupplement hyaluronic products are licensed in Canada. Hylan G-F 20 is distinguished from the other products by its chemical structure (i.e., cross-linked hyaluronan, hence hylan) and relatively higher molecular weight, which may bestow greater therapeutic viscoelastic properties. A complete treatment cycle of hylan G-F 20 involves an intra-articular injection of 2 ml of hylan G-F 20 once a week for 3 weeks. It is licensed for use for patients in all stages of joint pathology, but should not be used in infected or severely inflamed joints, in joints with large effusion, in patients that have skin diseases or infections in the area of the injection site, or in patients with venous stasis. It is also contraindicated in patients with hypersensitivities to avian proteins.
Review Strategy
The Medical Advisory Secretariat used its standard search protocol to review the literature for evidence on the effectiveness of intra-articular hylan G-F 20 compared with placebo, as a substitute for alternate active treatments, or as an adjunct to conventional care for treatment of the pain of OA of the knee. All English-language journal articles and reviews with clearly described designs and methods (i.e., those sufficient to assign a Jadad score to) published or released between 1966 and February 2005 were included. Two more recently published meta-analyses were also included. The databases searched were Ovid MEDLINE, EMBASE, the Cochrane database and leading international organizations for health technology assessments, including the International Network of Agencies for Health Technology Assessments. The search terms were as follows: hyaluronan, hyaluronate adj sodium, hylan, hylan G-F 20 (Synvisc), Synvisc, Hyalgan, Orthovisc, Supartz, Artz, Artzal, BioHY, NASHA, NRD101, viscosupplementation, osteoarthritis, knee, knee joint. The primary outcome of interest was a clinically significant difference, defined as greater than 10 mm on 100 mm visual analogue scale, or a change from baseline of more than 20% in the mean magnitude of pain relief experienced among patients treated with hylan G-F 20 compared with those treated with the control intervention.
One clinical epidemiologist reviewed the full-text reports and extracted data using an extraction form. Key variables included, but were not limited to, the characteristics of the patients, method of randomization, type of control intervention, outcome measures for effectiveness and safety, and length of follow-up. The quality of the studies and level of the evidence was initially scored by one clinical epidemiologist using the Jadad scale and GRADE approach. Level of quality depends on the amount of certainty about the magnitude of effect and is based on study designs, extent of methodological limitations, consistency of results and applicability (i.e. directness) to the Ontario clinical context. The GRADE approach also permits comment on the strength of recommendations resulting from the evidence, based on estimates of the magnitude of effect relative to the magnitude of risk and burden and the level of certainty around these estimates. The quality assessments were subsequently peer-reviewed.
Summary of Findings
The literature search revealed 2 previous health technology assessments, 3 meta-analyses of placebo-controlled trials, 1 Cochrane review and meta-analysis encompassing 18 randomized controlled trials (RCTs) that compared hylan G-F 20 to either placebo or active treatments, 11 RCTs of hylan G-F 20 (all included in the Cochrane review), and 10 observational studies. Given the preponderance of evidence, the Medical Advisory Secretariat’s analysis focused on studies with Level 1 evidence of effectiveness (i.e., the meta-analyses of RCTs and the RCTs). Only safety data from the observational studies were included.
The authors of the 2 health technology assessments concluded that the data were sparse and poor quality. There was some evidence that hylan G-F 20 delivered a small, clinical benefit at 3 to 6 months after treatment on a magnitude comparable to NSAIDs and intra-articular steroids. Hylan G-F 20 appeared to carry a risk of a local adverse reaction of in the range of 3% to 18% per 100 injections, but there was no apparent risk of a severe adverse event, although the data were limited.
Each of the 3 meta-analyses of placebo-controlled trials of intra-articular hyaluronans had only 3 trials involving hylan G-F 20. There results were inconsistent, with one study concluding that intra-articular hyaluronans were efficacious, whereas the 2 other analyses concluded the effect size was small (0.32) and probably not clinically significant. The risk of a minor adverse event ranged from 8% to 19% per 100 injections. Major adverse events were rare.
The authors of the Cochrane review concluded that a pooled analysis supported the efficacy of hyaluronans, including hylan G-F 20. The 5- to 13-week post-injection period showed an improvement from baseline of 11% to 54% for pain and 9% to 15% for function. Comparable efficacy was noted against NSAIDs, and longer-term benefits were noted in against steroids. Few adverse events were noted.
When the Medical Advisory Secretariat applied the criterion of clinical significance to the magnitude of pain relief reported in the RCTs on hylan G-F 20, the following was noted:
There was inconsistent evidence that hylan G-F 20 was clinically superior to placebo at 5 to 26 weeks after treatment.
There was consistent evidence that, in terms of delivering pain relief, hylan G-F 20 was no better or worse than NSAIDs or intra-articular steroids at 5 to 26 weeks after treatment.
There was consistent evidence that hylan G-F 20 was not clinically superior to other hyaluronic products.
There was consistent evidence that hylan G-F 20 delivered a small magnitude of clinical benefit at 12 to 52 weeks post-injection when administered as an adjunct to conventional care.
There were limitations to the methods in many of the RCTs involving hylan G-F 20. When only the results from the higher-quality studies were considered, there was level 2 evidence that hylan G-F 20 was not clinically superior to placebo (or another hyaluronan) at 1 to 26 weeks after treatment in older patients with advanced disease for whom total knee replacement was indicated. There was level 2 evidence that hylan G-F 2- was comparable to NSAIDs at 4 to 13 weeks after treatment, and level 2 evidence that hylan G-F 20 was superior to placebo as an adjunct to conventional care 4 to 26 weeks after treatment.
With respect to safety, overall, hylan G-F 20 carries a risk of a minor, local adverse event rate of about 8% to 19% per 100 injections. Incidents of moderate-severe post-injection inflammatory joint reactions have been reported, but the likelihood appears to be low (0.15% of patients).
Economic Analysis
Case-costing estimates suggest that the annual cost of 2 treatment cycles of hylan G-F 20 (plus analgesics for breakthrough pain) is almost equivalent to the annual cost of taking a NSAID (with a gastroprotective agent) and is more expensive that taking intra-articular corticosteroids (plus analgesics for breakthrough pain). The estimated cost of funding hylan G-F 20 as an adjunct to conventional therapy (i.e., any of analgesics, NSAIDs, intra-articular steroids, physiotherapy, and surgery) is $700 per patient per year. Given the huge burden of mild to moderate OA among adults who seek medical care for it in Ontario (about 300,000), funding hylan G-F 20 as an adjunct to existing treatment could be expensive, depending on its diffusion and uptake. If only 10% to 30% of patients choose this option, then the estimated budget impact would be $21 million to $63 million (Cdn) per year.
Conclusions
When the benefits relative to the risks and costs are considered, NSAIDs and hylan G-F 20 appear comparable, as the table shows. Consequently, there’s little evidence on which to recommend hylan G-F 20 over NSAIDs, except perhaps for patients who cannot tolerate NSAIDs, although this evidence is indirect, since no studies looked specifically at this population.
CC indicates conventional care; IA, intra-articular; NSAID, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug.
Intra-articular steroids appear to deliver the same risks and clinical benefits as hylan G-F 20 at a lower cost; therefore, there’s evidence that intra-articular steroids are the preferred option. Hylan G-F 20 as an adjunct to conventional care appears to deliver some clinical benefit, although funding hylan G-F 20 as an adjunct would have considerable budget impact, so the benefits of this option do not clearly outweigh the costs. There’s some uncertainty about the effect of hylan G-F 20 relative to other hyaluronans, mostly because some of the trials of this comparison were not published.
Many of the studies of hylan G-F 20 have considerable methodological limitations that result in uncertainty about the magnitude of effect. An upcoming review of the evidence by the Osteoarthritis Advisory Panel of clinical experts will likely help to reduce some of this uncertainty.
There is moderate evidence that hylan G-F 20 is no more clinically effective than NSAIDs. The evidence that hylan G-F 20 might be an appropriate option for a person with OA of the knee who cannot tolerate NSAIDs is indirect. The possible benefit of fewer cases of NSAID-induced gastropathy in this population must be weighed against the uncertainty of a severe inflammatory adverse reaction to hylan G-F 20.
Similarly, there is moderate evidence that hylan G-F 20 is no more clinically effective than intra-articular corticosteroids. The lower cost of intra-articular corticosteroids makes them the preferred option.
There is moderate evidence that hylan G-F 20 is effective as an adjunct to conventional care, delivering a small magnitude of temporary relief at 4 to 26 weeks after treatment. The estimated additional cost to the system of providing hylan G-F 20 as an adjunct to conventional care is about $700 (Cdn) per patient annually. The magnitude and duration of clinical benefit of hylan G-F 20 must be weighed against the uncertainty and potential magnitude of the budget impact (about $35 million to $105 million (Cdn) per year) of funding this device given the high burden of OA in Ontario adults.
There is level 2 evidence that hylan G-F 20 is not effective in people with advanced OA for whom total knee replacement is indicated.
PMCID: PMC3382385  PMID: 23074461
19.  Lamotrigine for acute and chronic pain 
Background
This is an update of the original Cochrane review published in Issue 2, 2007. Some antiepileptic medicines have a place in the treatment of neuropathic pain (pain due to nerve damage). This updated review adds five new additional studies looking at evidence for Lamotrigine as an effective treatment for acute and chronic pain.
Objectives
To assess analgesic efficacy and adverse effects of the antiepileptic drug lamotrigine in acute and chronic pain.
Search methods
Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) of lamotrigine in acute, and chronic pain (including cancer pain) were identified from MEDLINE, EMBASE and CENTRAL up to January 2011. Additional studies were sought from the reference list of the retrieved papers.
Selection criteria
RCTs investigating the use of lamotrigine (any dose, by any route, and for any study duration) for the treatment of acute or chronic pain. Assessment of pain intensity or pain relief, or both, using validated scales. Participants were adults aged 18 and over. Only full journal publication articles were included.
Data collection and analysis
Dichotomous data (ideally for the outcome of at least 50% pain relief) were used to calculate relative risk with 95% confidence intervals. Meta-analysis was undertaken using a fixed-effect model. Numbers needed to treat to benefit (NNTs) were calculated as the reciprocal of the absolute risk reduction. For unwanted effects, the NNT becomes the number needed to harm (NNH) and was calculated.
Main results
Twelve included studies in 11 publications (1511 participants), all with chronic neuropathic pain: central post stroke pain (1), chemotherapy induced neuropathic pain (1), diabetic neuropathy (4), HIV related neuropathy (2), mixed neuropathic pain (2), spinal cord injury related pain (1), and trigeminal neuralgia (1); none investigated lamotrigine in acute pain. The update had five additional studies (1111 additional participants). Participants were aged between 26 and 77 years. Study duration was 2 weeks in one study and at least 6 weeks in the remainder; eight were of eight week duration or longer. There is no convincing evidence that lamotrigine is effective in treating acute or chronic pain at doses of about 200-400 mg daily. Almost 10% of participants taking lamotrigine reported a skin rash.
Authors’ conclusions
The additional studies tripled participant numbers providing data for analysis, and new, more stringent criteria for outcomes and analysis were used; conclusions about lamotrigine’s lack of efficacy in chronic pain did not change. Given availability of more effective treatments including antiepileptics and antidepressant medicines, lamotrigine does not have a significant place in therapy based on available evidence.
doi:10.1002/14651858.CD006044.pub3
PMCID: PMC4161113  PMID: 21328280
Acute Disease; Analgesics [* therapeutic use]; Chronic Disease; Pain [* drug therapy]; Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic; Triazines [* therapeutic use]; Humans
20.  Model-based estimation of measures of association for time-to-event outcomes 
Background
Hazard ratios are ubiquitously used in time to event applications to quantify adjusted covariate effects. Although hazard ratios are invaluable for hypothesis testing, other adjusted measures of association, both relative and absolute, should be provided to fully appreciate studies results. The corrected group prognosis method is generally used to estimate the absolute risk reduction and the number needed to be treated for categorical covariates.
Methods
The goal of this paper is to present transformation models for time-to-event outcomes to obtain, directly from estimated coefficients, the measures of association widely used in biostatistics together with their confidence interval. Pseudo-values are used for a practical estimation of transformation models.
Results
Using the regression model estimated through pseudo-values with suitable link functions, relative risks, risk differences and the number needed to treat, are obtained together with their confidence intervals. One example based on literature data and one original application to the study of prognostic factors in primary retroperitoneal soft tissue sarcomas are presented. A simulation study is used to show some properties of the different estimation methods.
Conclusions
Clinically useful measures of treatment or exposure effect are widely available in epidemiology. When time to event outcomes are present, the analysis is performed generally resorting to predicted values from Cox regression model. It is now possible to resort to more general regression models, adopting suitable link functions and pseudo values for estimation, to obtain alternative measures of effect directly from regression coefficients together with their confidence interval. This may be especially useful when, in presence of time dependent covariate effects, it is not straightforward to specify the correct, if any, time dependent functional form. The method can easily be implemented with standard software.
doi:10.1186/1471-2288-14-97
PMCID: PMC4151379  PMID: 25106903
Survival analysis; Transformation models; Pseudo-values; Link functions; Numbers needed to treat
21.  Using and Interpreting Adjusted NNT Measures in Biomedical Research 
The number needed to treat (NNT) is a popular effect measure to present study results in biomedical research. NNTs were originally proposed to describe the absolute effect of a new treatment compared with a standard treatment or placebo in randomized controlled trials (RCTs) with binary outcome. The concept of the NNT measure has been applied to a number of other research areas involving the development of related measures and more sophisticated techniques to calculate and interpret NNT measures in biomedical research. In epidemiology and public health research an adequate adjustment for covariates is usually required leading to the application of adjusted NNT measures. An overview of the recent developments regarding adjustment of NNT measures is given. The use and interpretation of adjusted NNT measures is illustrated by means of examples from dentistry research.
doi:10.2174/1874210601004020072
PMCID: PMC2944994  PMID: 20871755
Number needed to treat; evidence-based medicine; confounding; adjustment for covariates; regression analysis.
22.  Calculation of NNTs in RCTs with time-to-event outcomes: A literature review 
Background
The number needed to treat (NNT) is a well-known effect measure for reporting the results of clinical trials. In the case of time-to-event outcomes, the calculation of NNTs is more difficult than in the case of binary data. The frequency of using NNTs to report results of randomised controlled trials (RCT) investigating time-to-event outcomes and the adequacy of the applied calculation methods are unknown.
Methods
We searched in PubMed for RCTs with parallel group design and individual randomisation, published in four frequently cited journals between 2003 and 2005. We evaluated the type of outcome, the frequency of reporting NNTs with corresponding confidence intervals, and assessed the adequacy of the methods used to calculate NNTs in the case of time-to-event outcomes.
Results
The search resulted in 734 eligible RCTs. Of these, 373 RCTs investigated time-to-event outcomes and 361 analyzed binary data. In total, 62 articles reported NNTs (34 articles with time-to-event outcomes, 28 articles with binary outcomes). Of the 34 articles reporting NNTs derived from time-to-event outcomes, only 17 applied an appropriate calculation method. Of the 62 articles reporting NNTs, only 21 articles presented corresponding confidence intervals.
Conclusion
The NNT is used as effect measure to present the results from RCTs with binary and time-to-event outcomes in the current medical literature. In the case of time-to-event data incorrect methods were frequently applied. Confidence intervals for NNTs were given in one third of the NNT reporting articles only. In summary, there is much room for improvement in the application of NNTs to present results of RCTs, especially where the outcome is time to an event.
doi:10.1186/1471-2288-9-21
PMCID: PMC2666755  PMID: 19302699
23.  Ultraviolet Phototherapy Management of Moderate-to-Severe Plaque Psoriasis 
Executive Summary
Objective
The purpose of this evidence based analysis was to determine the effectiveness and safety of ultraviolet phototherapy for moderate-to-severe plaque psoriasis.
Research Questions
The specific research questions for the evidence review were as follows:
What is the safety of ultraviolet phototherapy for moderate-to-severe plaque psoriasis?
What is the effectiveness of ultraviolet phototherapy for moderate-to-severe plaque psoriasis?
Clinical Need: Target Population and Condition
Psoriasis is a common chronic, systemic inflammatory disease affecting the skin, nails and occasionally the joints and has a lifelong waning and waxing course. It has a worldwide occurrence with a prevalence of at least 2% of the general population, making it one of the most common systemic inflammatory diseases. The immune-mediated disease has several clinical presentations with the most common (85% - 90%) being plaque psoriasis.
Characteristic features of psoriasis include scaling, redness, and elevation of the skin. Patients with psoriasis may also present with a range of disabling symptoms such as pruritus (itching), pain, bleeding, or burning associated with plaque lesions and up to 30% are classified as having moderate-to-severe disease. Further, some psoriasis patients can be complex medical cases in which diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, and hypertension are more likely to be present than in control populations and 10% also suffer from arthritis (psoriatic arthritis). The etiology of psoriasis is unknown but is thought to result from complex interactions between the environment and predisposing genes.
Management of psoriasis is related to the extent of the skin involvement, although its presence on the hands, feet, face or genitalia can present challenges. Moderate-to-severe psoriasis is managed by phototherapy and a range of systemic agents including traditional immunosuppressants such as methotrexate and cyclospsorin. Treatment with modern immunosuppressant agents known as biologicals, which more specifically target the immune defects of the disease, is usually reserved for patients with contraindications and those failing or unresponsive to treatments with traditional immunosuppressants or phototherapy.
Treatment plans are based on a long-term approach to managing the disease, patient’s expectations, individual responses and risk of complications. The treatment goals are several fold but primarily to:
1) improve physical signs and secondary psychological effects,
2) reduce inflammation and control skin shedding,
3) control physical signs as long as possible, and to
4) avoid factors that can aggravate the condition.
Approaches are generally individualized because of the variable presentation, quality of life implications, co-existent medical conditions, and triggering factors (e.g. stress, infections and medications). Individual responses and commitments to therapy also present possible limitations.
Phototherapy
Ultraviolet phototherapy units have been licensed since February 1993 as a class 2 device in Canada. Units are available as hand held devices, hand and foot devices, full-body panel, and booth styles for institutional and home use. Units are also available with a range of ultraviolet A, broad and narrow band ultraviolet B (BB-UVB and NB-UVB) lamps. After establishing appropriate ultraviolet doses, three-times weekly treatment schedules for 20 to 25 treatments are generally needed to control symptoms.
Evidence-Based Analysis Methods
The literature search strategy employed keywords and subject headings to capture the concepts of 1) phototherapy and 2) psoriasis. The search involved runs in the following databases: Ovid MEDLINE (1996 to March Week 3 2009), OVID MEDLINE In-Process and Other Non-Indexed Citations, EMBASE (1980 to 2009 Week 13), the Wiley Cochrane Library, and the Centre for Reviews and Dissemination/International Agency for Health Technology Assessment. Parallel search strategies were developed for the remaining databases. Search results were limited to human and English-language published between January 1999 and March 31, 2009. Search alerts were generated and reviewed for relevant literature up until May 31, 2009.
English language reports and human studies
Ultraviolet phototherapy interventions for plaque-type psoriasis
Reports involving efficacy and/or safety outcome studies
Original reports with defined study methodology
Standardized measurements on outcome events such as technical success, safety, effectiveness, durability, quality of life or patient satisfaction
Non-systematic reviews, letters, comments and editorials
Randomized trials involving side-to-side or half body comparisons
Randomized trials not involving ultraviolet phototherapy intervention for plaque-type psoriasis
Trials involving dosing studies, pilot feasibility studies or lacking control groups
Summary of Findings
A 2000 health technology evidence report on the overall management of psoriasis by The National Institute Health Research (NIHR) Health Technology Assessment Program of the UK was identified in the MAS evidence-based review. The report included 109 RCT studies published between 1966 and June 1999 involving four major treatment approaches – 51 on phototherapy, 32 on oral retinoids, 18 on cyclosporin and five on fumarates.. The absence of RCTs on methotrexate was noted as original studies with this agent had been performed prior to 1966.
Of the 51 RCT studies involving phototherapy, 22 involved UVA, 21 involved UVB, five involved both UVA and UVB and three involved natural light as a source of UV. The RCT studies included comparisons of treatment schedules, ultraviolet source, addition of adjuvant therapies, and comparisons between phototherapy and topical treatment schedules. Because of heterogeneity, no synthesis or meta-analysis could be performed. Overall, the reviewers concluded that the efficacy of only five therapies could be supported from the RCT-based evidence review: photochemotherapy or phototherapy, cyclosporin, systemic retinoids, combination topical vitamin D3 analogues (calcipotriol) and corticosteroids in combination with phototherapy and fumarates. Although there was no RCT evidence supporting methotrexate, it’s efficacy for psoriasis is well known and it continues to be a treatment mainstay.
The conclusion of the NIHR evidence review was that both photochemotherapy and phototherapy were effective treatments for clearing psoriasis, although their comparative effectiveness was unknown. Despite the conclusions on efficacy, a number of issues were identified in the evidence review and several areas for future research were discussed to address these limitations. Trials focusing on comparative effectiveness, either between ultraviolet sources or between classes of treatment such as methotrexate versus phototherapy, were recommended to refine treatment algorithms. The need for better assessment of cost-effectiveness of therapies to consider systemic drug costs and costs of surveillance, as well as drug efficacy, were also noted. Overall, the authors concluded that phototherapy and photochemotherapy had important roles in psoriasis management and were standard therapeutic options for psoriasis offered in dermatology practices.
The MAS evidence-based review focusing on the RCT trial evidence for ultraviolet phototherapy management of moderate-to-severe plaque psoriasis was performed as an update to the NIHR 2000 systemic review on treatments for severe psoriasis. In this review, an additional 26 RCT reports examining phototherapy or photochemotherapy for psoriasis were identified. Among the studies were two RCTs comparing ultraviolet wavelength sources, five RCTs comparing different forms of phototherapy, four RCTs combining phototherapy with prior spa saline bathing, nine RCTs combining phototherapy with topical agents, two RCTs combining phototherapy with the systemic immunosuppressive agents methotrexate or alefacept, one RCT comparing phototherapy with an additional light source (the excimer laser), and one comparing a combination therapy with phototherapy and psychological intervention involving simultaneous audiotape sessions on mindfulness and stress reduction. Two trials also examined the effect of treatment setting on effectiveness of phototherapy, one on inpatient versus outpatient therapy and one on outpatient clinic versus home-based phototherapy.
Conclusions
The conclusions of the MAS evidence-based review are outlined in Table ES1. In summary, phototherapy provides good control of clinical symptoms in the short term for patients with moderate-to-severe plaque-type psoriasis that have failed or are unresponsive to management with topical agents. However, many of the evidence gaps identified in the NIHR 2000 evidence review on psoriasis management persisted. In particular, the lack of evidence on the comparative effectiveness and/or cost-effectiveness between the major treatment options for moderate-to-severe psoriasis remained. The evidence on effectiveness and safety of longer term strategies for disease management has also not been addressed. Evidence for the safety, effectiveness, or cost-effectiveness of phototherapy delivered in various settings is emerging but is limited. In addition, because all available treatments for psoriasis – a disease with a high prevalence, chronicity, and cost – are palliative rather than curative, strategies for disease control and improvements in self-efficacy employed in other chronic disease management strategies should be investigated.
RCT Evidence for Ultraviolet Phototherapy Treatment of Moderate-To-Severe Plaque Psoriasis
Phototherapy is an effective treatment for moderate-to-severe plaque psoriasis
Narrow band PT is more effective than broad band PT for moderate-to-severe plaque psoriasis
Oral-PUVA has a greater clinical response, requires less treatments and has a greater cumulative UV irradiation dose than UVB to achieve treatment effects for moderate-to-severe plaque psoriasis
Spa salt water baths prior to phototherapy did increase short term clinical response of moderate-to-severe plaque psoriasis but did not decrease cumulative UV irradiation dose
Addition of topical agents (vitamin D3 calcipotriol) to NB-UVB did not increase mean clinical response or decrease treatments or cumulative UV irradiation dose
Methotrexate prior to NB-UVB in high need psoriasis patients did significantly increase clinical response, decrease number of treatment sessions and decrease cumulative UV irradiation dose
Phototherapy following alefacept did increase early clinical response in moderate-to-severe plaque psoriasis
Effectiveness and safety of home NB-UVB phototherapy was not inferior to NB-UVB phototherapy provided in a clinic to patients with psoriasis referred for phototherapy. Treatment burden was lower and patient satisfaction was higher with home therapy and patients in both groups preferred future phototherapy treatments at home
Ontario Health System Considerations
A 2006 survey of ultraviolet phototherapy services in Canada identified 26 phototherapy clinics in Ontario for a population of over 12 million. At that time, there were 177 dermatologists and 50 geographic regions in which 28% (14/50) provided phototherapy services. The majority of the phototherapy services were reported to be located in densely populated areas; relatively few patients living in rural communities had access to these services. The inconvenience of multiple weekly visits for optimal phototherapy treatment effects poses additional burdens to those with travel difficulties related to health, job, or family-related responsibilities.
Physician OHIP billing for phototherapy services totaled 117,216 billings in 2007, representing approximately 1,800 patients in the province treated in private clinics. The number of patients treated in hospitals is difficult to estimate as physician costs are not billed directly to OHIP in this setting. Instead, phototherapy units and services provided in hospitals are funded by hospitals’ global budgets. Some hospitals in the province, however, have divested their phototherapy services, so the number of phototherapy clinics and their total capacity is currently unknown.
Technological advances have enabled changes in phototherapy treatment regimens from lengthy hospital inpatient stays to outpatient clinic visits and, more recently, to an at-home basis. When combined with a telemedicine follow-up, home phototherapy may provide an alternative strategy for improved access to service and follow-up care, particularly for those with geographic or mobility barriers. Safety and effectiveness have, however, so far been evaluated for only one phototherapy home-based delivery model. Alternate care models and settings could potentially increase service options and access, but the broader consequences of the varying cost structures and incentives that either increase or decrease phototherapy services are unknown.
Economic Analyses
The focus of the current economic analysis was to characterize the costs associated with the provision of NB-UVB phototherapy for plaque-type, moderate-to-severe psoriasis in different clinical settings, including home therapy. A literature review was conducted and no cost-effectiveness (cost-utility) economic analyses were published in this area.
Hospital, Clinic, and Home Costs of Phototherapy
Costs for NB-UVB phototherapy were based on consultations with equipment manufacturers and dermatologists. Device costs applicable to the provision of NB-UVB phototherapy in hospitals, private clinics and at a patient’s home were estimated. These costs included capital costs of purchasing NB-UVB devices (amortized over 15-20 years), maintenance costs of replacing equipment bulbs, physician costs of phototherapy treatment in private clinics ($7.85 per phototherapy treatment), and medication and laboratory costs associated with treatment of moderate-to-severe psoriasis.
NB-UVB phototherapy services provided in a hospital setting were paid for by hospitals directly. Phototherapy services in private clinic and home settings were paid for by the clinic and patient, respectively, except for physician services covered by OHIP. Indirect funding was provided to hospitals as part of global budgeting and resource allocation. Home therapy services for NB-UVB phototherapy were not covered by the MOHLTC. Coverage for home-based phototherapy however, was in some cases provided by third party insurers.
Device costs for NB-UVB phototherapy were estimated for two types of phototherapy units: a “booth unit” consisting of 48 bulbs used in hospitals and clinics, and a “panel unit” consisting of 10 bulbs for home use. The device costs of the booth and panel units were estimated at approximately $18,600 and $2,900, respectively; simple amortization over 15 and 20 years implied yearly costs of approximately $2,500 and $150, respectively. Replacement cost for individual bulbs was about $120 resulting in total annual cost of maintenance of about $8,640 and $120 for booth and panel units, respectively.
Estimated Total Costs for Ontario
Average annual cost per patient for NB-UVB phototherapy provided in the hospital, private clinic or at home was estimated to be $292, $810 and $365 respectively. For comparison purposes, treatment of moderate-to-severe psoriasis with methotrexate and cyclosporin amounted to $712 and $3,407 annually per patient respectively; yearly costs for biological drugs were estimated to be $18,700 for alefacept and $20,300 for etanercept-based treatments.
Total annual costs of NB-UVB phototherapy were estimated by applying average costs to an estimated proportion of the population (age 18 or older) eligible for phototherapy treatment. The prevalence of psoriasis was estimated to be approximately 2% of the population, of which about 85% was of plaque-type psoriasis and approximately 20% to 30% was considered moderate-to-severe in disease severity. An estimate of 25% for moderate-to-severe psoriasis cases was used in the current economic analysis resulting in a range of 29,400 to 44,200 cases. Approximately 21% of these patients were estimated to be using NB-UVB phototherapy for treatment resulting in a number of cases in the range between 6,200 and 9,300 cases. The average (7,700) number of cases was used to calculate associated costs for Ontario by treatment setting.
Total annual costs were as follows: $2.3 million in a hospital setting, $6.3 million in a private clinic setting, and $2.8 million for home phototherapy. Costs for phototherapy services provided in private clinics were greater ($810 per patient annually; total of $6.3 million annually) and differed from the same services provided in the hospital setting only in terms of additional physician costs associated with phototherapy OHIP fees.
Keywords
Psoriasis, ultraviolet radiation, phototherapy, photochemotherapy, NB-UVB, BB-UVB PUVA
PMCID: PMC3377497  PMID: 23074532
24.  Anti-fibrinolytic use for minimising perioperative allogeneic blood transfusion 
Background
Concerns regarding the safety of transfused blood have led to the development of a range of interventions to minimise blood loss during major surgery. Anti-fibrinolytic drugs are widely used, particularly in cardiac surgery, and previous reviews have found them to be effective in reducing blood loss, the need for transfusion, and the need for re-operation due to continued or recurrent bleeding. In the last few years questions have been raised regarding the comparative performance of the drugs. The safety of the most popular agent, aprotinin, has been challenged, and it was withdrawn from world markets in May 2008 because of concerns that it increased the risk of cardiovascular complications and death.
Objectives
To assess the comparative effects of the anti-fibrinolytic drugs aprotinin, tranexamic acid (TXA), and epsilon aminocaproic acid (EACA) on blood loss during surgery, the need for red blood cell (RBC) transfusion, and adverse events, particularly vascular occlusion, renal dysfunction, and death.
Search methods
We searched: the Cochrane Injuries Group’s Specialised Register (July 2010), Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (The Cochrane Library 2010, Issue 3), MEDLINE (Ovid SP) 1950 to July 2010, EMBASE (Ovid SP) 1980 to July 2010. References in identified trials and review articles were checked and trial authors were contacted to identify any additional studies. The searches were last updated in July 2010.
Selection criteria
Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) of anti-fibrinolytic drugs in adults scheduled for non-urgent surgery. Eligible trials compared anti-fibrinolytic drugs with placebo (or no treatment), or with each other.
Data collection and analysis
Two authors independently assessed trial quality and extracted data. This version of the review includes a sensitivity analysis excluding trials authored by Prof. Joachim Boldt.
Main results
This review summarises data from 252 RCTs that recruited over 25,000 participants. Data from the head-to-head trials suggest an advantage of aprotinin over the lysine analogues TXA and EACA in terms of reducing perioperative blood loss, but the differences were small. Compared to control, aprotinin reduced the probability of requiring RBC transfusion by a relative 34% (relative risk [RR] 0.66, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.60 to 0.72). The RR for RBC transfusion with TXA was 0.61 (95% CI 0.53 to 0.70) and was 0.81 (95% CI 0.67 to 0.99) with EACA. When the pooled estimates from the head-to-head trials of the two lysine analogues were combined and compared to aprotinin alone, aprotinin appeared more effective in reducing the need for RBC transfusion (RR 0.90; 95% CI 0.81 to 0.99).
Aprotinin reduced the need for re-operation due to bleeding by a relative 54% (RR 0.46, 95% CI 0.34 to 0.62). This translates into an absolute risk reduction of 2% and a number needed-to-treat (NNT) of 50 (95% CI 33 to 100). A similar trend was seen with EACA (RR 0.32, 95% CI 0.11 to 0.99) but not TXA (RR 0.80, 95% CI 0.55 to 1.17). The blood transfusion data were heterogeneous and funnel plots indicate that trials of aprotinin and the lysine analogues may be subject to publication bias.
When compared with no treatment aprotinin did not increase the risk of myocardial infarction (RR 0.87, 95% CI 0.69 to 1.11), stroke (RR 0.82, 95% CI 0.44 to 1.52), renal dysfunction (RR 1.10, 95% CI 0.79 to 1.54) or overall mortality (RR 0.81, 95% CI 0.63 to 1.06). Similar trends were seen with the lysine analogues, but data were sparse. These data conflict with the results of recently published non-randomised studies, which found increased risk of cardiovascular complications and death with aprotinin. There are concerns about the adequacy of reporting of uncommon events in the small clinical trials included in this review.
When aprotinin was compared directly with either, or both, of the two lysine analogues it resulted in a significant increase in the risk of death (RR 1.39, 95% CI 1.02, 1.89), and a non-significant increase in the risk of myocardial infarction (RR 1.11 95% CI 0.82, 1.50). Most of the data contributing to this added risk came from a single study - the BART trial (2008).
Authors’ conclusions
Anti-fibrinolytic drugs provide worthwhile reductions in blood loss and the receipt of allogeneic red cell transfusion. Aprotinin appears to be slightly more effective than the lysine analogues in reducing blood loss and the receipt of blood transfusion. However, head to head comparisons show a lower risk of death with lysine analogues when compared with aprotinin. The lysine analogues are effective in reducing blood loss during and after surgery, and appear to be free of serious adverse effects.
doi:10.1002/14651858.CD001886.pub4
PMCID: PMC4234031  PMID: 21412876
Aminocaproic Acid [*therapeutic use]; Antifibrinolytic Agents [*therapeutic use]; Aprotinin [*therapeutic use]; Blood Loss, Surgical [*prevention & control]; Erythrocyte Transfusion [*utilization]; Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic; Tranexamic Acid [*therapeutic use]; Transplantation, Homologous; Adult; Humans
25.  Hospital at home admission avoidance 
Background
Admission avoidance hospital at home is a service that provides active treatment by health care professionals in the patient’s home for a condition that otherwise would require acute hospital in-patient care, and always for a limited time period. In particular, hospital at home has to offer a specific service to patients in their home requiring health care professionals to take an active part in the patients’ care. If hospital at home were not available then the patient would be admitted to an acute hospital ward. Many countries are adopting this type of care in an attempt to reduce the demand for acute hospital admission.
Objectives
To determine, in the context of a systematic review and meta analysis, the effectiveness and cost of managing patients with admission avoidance hospital at home compared with in-patient hospital care.
Search methods
The following databases were searched through to January 2008: MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, EconLit and the Cochrane Effective Practice and Organisation of Care Group (EPOC) register. We checked the reference lists of articles identified electronically for evaluations of hospital at home and obtained potentially relevant articles. Unpublished studies were sought by contacting providers and researchers who were known to be involved in this field.
Selection criteria
Randomised controlled trials recruiting patients aged 18 years and over. Studies comparing admission avoidance hospital at home with acute hospital in-patient care. The admission avoidance hospital at home interventions may admit patients directly from the community thereby avoiding physical contact with the hospital, or may admit from the emergency room.
Data collection and analysis
Two authors independently extracted data and assessed study quality. Our statistical analyses sought to include all randomised patients and were done on an intention to treat basis. We requested individual patient data (IPD) from trialists, and relied on published data when we did not receive trial data sets or the IPD did not include the relevant outcomes. When combining outcome data was not possible because of differences in the reporting of outcomes we have presented the data in narrative summary tables.
For the IPD meta-analysis, where at least one event was reported in both study groups in a trial, Cox regression models were used to calculate the log hazard ratio and its standard error for mortality and readmission separately for each data set (where both outcomes were available). We included randomisation group (admission avoidance hospital at home versus control), age (above or below the median), and gender in the models. The calculated log hazard ratios were combined using fixed effects inverse variance meta analysis. If there were no events in one group we used the Peto odds ratio method to calculate a log odds ratio from the sum of the log-rank test ‘O-E’ statistics from a Kaplan Meier survival analysis. Statistical significance throughout was taken at the two-sided 5% level (p<0.05) and data are presented as the estimated effect with 95% confidence intervals. For each comparison using published data for dichotomous outcomes we calculated risk ratios using a fixed effects model to combine data.
Main results
We included 10 RCTs (n=1333), seven of which were eligible for the IPD. Five out of these seven trials contributed to the IPD meta-analysis (n=850/975; 87%). There was a non significant reduction in mortality at three months for the admission avoidance hospital at home group (adjusted HR 0.77, 95% CI 0.54 to 1.09; p=0.15), which reached significance at six months follow-up (adjusted HR 0.62, 95% CI 0.45 to 0.87; p=0.005). A non significant increase in admissions was observed for patients allocated to hospital at home (adjusted HR 1.49, 95% CI 0.96 to 2.33; p=0.08). Few differences were reported for functional ability, quality of life or cognitive ability. Patients reported increased satisfaction with admission avoidance hospital at home. Two trials conducted a full economic analysis, when the costs of informal care were excluded admission avoidance hospital at home was less expensive than admission to an acute hospital ward.
Authors’ conclusions
We performed meta-analyses where there was sufficient similarity among the trials and where common outcomes had been measured. There is no evidence from the analysis to suggest that admission avoidance hospital at home leads to outcomes that differ from inpatient hospital care.
doi:10.1002/14651858.CD007491
PMCID: PMC4033791  PMID: 18843751
Home Care Services [economics; *organization & administration]; Home Care Services, Hospital-Based [economics; *organization & administration]; Hospitalization; Outcome and Process Assessment (Health Care); Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic; Humans

Results 1-25 (1385290)