Using and Interpreting Adjusted NNT Measures in Biomedical Research

Ralf Bender1 , 2 , * Open Modal Authors Info & Affiliations
The Open Dentistry Journal 16 July 2010 RESEARCH ARTICLE DOI: 10.2174/1874210601004010072


The number needed to treat (NNT) is a popular effect measure to present study results in biomedical research. NNTs were originally proposed to describe the absolute effect of a new treatment compared with a standard treatment or placebo in randomized controlled trials (RCTs) with binary outcome. The concept of the NNT measure has been applied to a number of other research areas involving the development of related measures and more sophisticated techniques to calculate and interpret NNT measures in biomedical research. In epidemiology and public health research an adequate adjustment for covariates is usually required leading to the application of adjusted NNT measures. An overview of the recent developments regarding adjustment of NNT measures is given. The use and interpretation of adjusted NNT measures is illustrated by means of examples from dentistry research.

Key Words: Number needed to treat, evidence-based medicine, confounding, adjustment for covariates, regression analysis.
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