Letters NNTs in chronic disease

NNT is highly misleading when assessing chronic disease prevention

BMJ 2014; 349 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.g4167 (Published 15 July 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;349:g4167
  1. Timo E Strandberg, professor1
  1. 1Universities of Helsinki and Oulu, PO Box 22, FI-00014 Helsinki, Finland
  1. timo.strandberg{at}oulu.fi

The use of absolute risk reduction and number needed to treat (NNT) instead of relative risk reduction (RRR) has been advocated when communicating the effect of various treatments to patients.1 2 However, the use of NNT in the prevention of chronic disease may be highly misleading and may underestimate long term benefits.

In a hypothetical primary prevention trial …

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