The "number needed to treat" turns 20 -- and continues to be used and misused

McAlister, Finlay A.
September 2008
CMAJ: Canadian Medical Association Journal;9/9/2008, Vol. 179 Issue 6, p549
Academic Journal
The article focuses on the factors that influence the number required to treat and that must be taken into account when comparing these values between therapies. It specifies that the number needed to treat is a useful measure for counseling patients about their potential to benefit from a certain intervention. It is used is sometimes a basis for comparing 2 or more therapies. It notes that the numbers needed to treat different therapies can only be compared if the therapies were tested in similar populations with the same condition, for their effects on the same outcomes, against the same comparator and over the same period of time.


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