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J Clin Epidemiol. 2017 Mar;83:65-74. doi: 10.1016/j.jclinepi.2016.11.015. Epub 2017 Jan 11.

Additional considerations are required when preparing a protocol for a systematic review with multiple interventions.

Author information

1
Department of Hygiene and Epidemiology, University of Ioannina School of Medicine, University Campus, Ioannina 45110, Greece. Electronic address: anna.chaimani@parisdescartes.fr.
2
School of Social and Community Medicine, University of Bristol, Canynge Hall, 39 Whatley Road, Bristol BS8 2PS, UK.
3
Department of Epidemiology, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 615 North Wolfe Street, E6011, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA.
4
Department of Hygiene and Epidemiology, University of Ioannina School of Medicine, University Campus, Ioannina 45110, Greece; Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine (ISPM), University of Bern, Finkenhubelweg 11, Bern 3012, Switzerland; Institute of Primary Health Care (BIHAM), University of Bern, Gesellschaftsstrasse 49, Bern CH-3012, Switzerland.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

The number of systematic reviews that aim to compare multiple interventions using network meta-analysis is increasing. In this study, we highlight aspects of a standard systematic review protocol that may need modification when multiple interventions are to be compared.

STUDY DESIGN AND SETTING:

We take the protocol format suggested by Cochrane for a standard systematic review as our reference and compare the considerations for a pairwise review with those required for a valid comparison of multiple interventions. We suggest new sections for protocols of systematic reviews including network meta-analyses with a focus on how to evaluate their assumptions. We provide example text from published protocols to exemplify the considerations.

CONCLUSION:

Standard systematic review protocols for pairwise meta-analyses need extensions to accommodate the increased complexity of network meta-analysis. Our suggested modifications are widely applicable to both Cochrane and non-Cochrane systematic reviews involving network meta-analyses.

KEYWORDS:

Comparative effectiveness review; Eligibility criteria; Indirect comparison; Mixed treatment comparison; Network meta-analysis; Transitivity

PMID:
28088593
DOI:
10.1016/j.jclinepi.2016.11.015
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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