Network meta-analysis for comparing treatment effects of multiple interventions: an introduction

Rheumatol Int. 2014 Nov;34(11):1489-96. doi: 10.1007/s00296-014-2994-2. Epub 2014 Apr 2.


Systematic reviews and meta-analyses of randomized trials have long been important synthesis tools for guiding evidence-based medicine. More recently, network meta-analyses, an extension of traditional meta-analyses enabling the comparison of multiple interventions, use new statistical methods to incorporate clinical evidence from both direct and indirect treatment comparisons in a network of treatments and associated trials. There is a need to provide education to ensure that core methodological considerations underlying network meta-analyses are well understood by readers and researchers to maximize their ability to appropriately interpret findings and appraise validity. Network meta-analyses are highly informative for assessing the comparative effects of multiple competing interventions in clinical practice and are a valuable tool for health technology assessment and comparative effectiveness research.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antirheumatic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / diagnosis
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / drug therapy*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / immunology
  • Biological Products / therapeutic use
  • Evidence-Based Medicine / methods*
  • Humans
  • Meta-Analysis as Topic*
  • Models, Statistical
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Review Literature as Topic*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antirheumatic Agents
  • Biological Products