Principal Investigator: Anna Chaimani
Participants: Tianqi Yu, Theodoros Evrenoglou, Raphaël Porcher, Isabelle Boutron
Host Institution: METHODS Team, CRESS
The systematic identification and synthesis of all available evidence on a specific clinical question is an integral part of the medical decision-making process and the planning of future research. For most medical conditions, a plethora of healthcare interventions are available and, thus, network meta-analysis (NMA) – the only tool enabling simultaneous comparisons between many interventions – is currently among the highest levels of evidence for the development of clinical guidelines. However, current NMA methodology has important limitations for properly synthesizing different study designs (randomised, cohort, case-control, etc.), which could increase the external validity of the findings. These limitations impose restrictions in most NMAs by usually allowing the synthesis of a selective sample of randomised controlled trials only, rendering their results rarely applicable in real settings of healthcare practice. The aim of the OptiCER project is a) to develop and evaluate new synthesis methods for integrating all different sources of evidence available for addressing a common research question and b) to develop new presentation and communication tools for presenting the findings of these ‘all-evidence’ NMAs targeting the needs of different stakeholders (clinicians, regulators, guideline developers). All new statistical models and tools will be accompanied by open-access and user-friendly software. The new methods will be used for the synthesis of the COVID-19 studies but will also be freely available for application in other medical fields. In this way, clinical recommendations will be based on a global view and synthesis of any piece of evidence rather than on a partial approach.