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Keywords:

  • meta-analysis;
  • mixed model;
  • random effects model;
  • controlled trial

Abstract

I present methods for assessing the relative effectiveness of two treatments when they have not been compared directly in a randomized trial but have each been compared to other treatments. These network meta-analysis techniques allow estimation of both heterogeneity in the effect of any given treatment and inconsistency (‘incoherence’) in the evidence from different pairs of treatments. A simple estimation procedure using linear mixed models is given and used in a meta-analysis of treatments for acute myocardial infarction. Copyright © 2002 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.