The rank-heat plot is a novel way to present the results from a network meta-analysis including multiple outcomes

J Clin Epidemiol. 2016 Aug:76:193-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jclinepi.2016.02.016. Epub 2016 Mar 3.


Objectives: To present a novel and simple graphical approach to improve the presentation of the treatment ranking in a network meta-analysis (NMA) including multiple outcomes.

Study design and setting: NMA simultaneously compares many relevant interventions for a clinical condition from a network of trials, and allows ranking of the effectiveness and/or safety of each intervention. There are numerous ways to present the NMA results, which can challenge their interpretation by research users. The rank-heat plot is a novel graph that can be used to quickly recognize which interventions are most likely the best or worst interventions with respect to their effectiveness and/or safety for a single or multiple outcome(s) and may increase interpretability.

Results: Using empirical NMAs, we show that the need for a concise and informative presentation of results is imperative, particularly as the number of competing treatments and outcomes in an NMA increases.

Conclusion: The rank-heat plot is an efficient way to present the results of ranking statistics, particularly when a large amount of data is available, and it is targeted to users from various backgrounds.

Keywords: Graphical displays; Multiple outcomes; Multiple treatment meta-analysis; Presentation results; Probability best; SUCRA.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biomedical Research / methods*
  • Computer Graphics*
  • Humans
  • Meta-Analysis as Topic*
  • Research Design
  • Research Report*
  • Statistics as Topic / methods*