Multicriteria benefit-risk assessment using network meta-analysis

J Clin Epidemiol. 2012 Apr;65(4):394-403. doi: 10.1016/j.jclinepi.2011.09.005. Epub 2011 Dec 23.


Objective: To enable multicriteria benefit-risk (BR) assessment of any number of alternative treatments using all available evidence from a network of clinical trials.

Study design and setting: We design a general method for multicriteria decision aiding with criteria measurements from Mixed Treatment Comparison (MTC) analyses. To evaluate the method, we apply it to BR assessment of four second-generation antidepressants and placebo in the setting of a published peer-reviewed systematic review.

Results: The analysis without preference information shows that placebo is supported by a wide range of possible preferences. Preference information provided by a clinical expert showed that although treatment with antidepressants is warranted for severely depressed patients, for mildly depressed patients placebo is likely to be the best option. It is difficult to choose between the four antidepressants, and the results of the model indicate a high degree of uncertainty.

Conclusions: The designed method enables quantitative BR analysis of alternative treatments using all available evidence from a network of clinical trials. The preference-free analysis can be useful in presenting the results of an MTC considering multiple outcomes.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Bayes Theorem
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Decision Making
  • Depression / drug therapy*
  • Epidemiologic Research Design*
  • Humans
  • Information Services
  • Mathematical Computing
  • Meta-Analysis as Topic*
  • Placebos
  • Risk Assessment* / methods
  • Stochastic Processes
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Placebos