Intended for healthcare professionals


Taking the uncertainty out of NNT . . . and other stories

BMJ 2017; 357 doi: (Published 15 June 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;357:j2820

Numbers needed to treat

The concept of numbers needed to treat is nearly 30 years old, but behind their seemingly simple digits, NNTs often hide complexity and uncertainty about treatment effects. An analysis of 51 meta-analyses and study reports in leading general medical journals (BMC Med doi:10.1186/s12916-017-0875-8) concludes that authors frequently fall short of basic methodological recommendations in reporting NNTs. As a result, clinicians already struggling to explain benefits (and harms) to patients might be working with figures that are unreliable, as well as poorly matched to the individuals they are talking to.

Less is more for responsive chronic myeloid leukaemia

Like so many cancer treatments, tyrosine kinase inhibitors for chronic myeloid leukaemia are both …

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