New innovation in network meta-analysis

A novel web-based interactive 3-dimensional (3-D) tool has been developed by Decision Resources Group Abacus in collaboration with leading academics at our University to facilitate the visualisation and exploration of covariate distributions and imbalances across evidence networks for network meta-analysis (NMA).

Network meta-analysis is becoming increasingly important for decision makers to assess the comparative efficacy and safety of interventions and is integral to health technology assessment (HTA). The exploration of covariate effects is important in NMA because the presence of unaccounted treatment covariate interactions can invalidate the assumptions that underlie NMA and bias results.

Visually assimilating, exploring and interpreting the distribution of covariate values across trials in an NMA is challenging due to the complexities of representing the network structure alongside study-level covariate values.

In a recently published paper in the Journal of Clinical Epidemiology, DRG Abacus and our University outline the rationale for and the features of the software tool.

Alex Sutton, Professor of Medical Statistics from the Department of Health Sciences, said: “The tool produced by this research collaboration surpassed my highest expectations. I consider this to be an exemplary collaboration between academia and industry to achieve something mutually valuable that would not be possible by either party on their own.

“The enthusiastic reception this innovative work has received, both when presented to peers and through peer review in an international journal, adds weight to my view that initiatives like this will be increasingly utilized for the evaluation of healthcare interventions in the future.”