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  • Method to draw conclusions from a network meta-analysis: a partially contextualised framework

    At present, the network meta-analysis has been rapidly developed and widely used, and it has the characteristic of quantifying and comparing the relative advantages of two or more different interventions for a single health outcome. However, comparison of multiple interventions has increased the complexity of drawing conclusions from network meta-analysis, and ignorance of the certainty of evidence has also led to misleading conclusions. Recently, the GRADE (grading of recommendations assessment, development and evaluation) working group proposed two approaches for obtaining conclusions from a network meta-analysis of interventions, namely, the partially contextualised framework and the minimally contextualised framework. When using partially contextualised framework, authors should establish ranges of magnitudes of effect that represent a trivial to no effect, minimal but important effect, moderate effect, and large effect. The guiding principles of this framework are that interventions should be grouped in categories based on the magnitude of the effect and its benefit or harm; and that when classifying, consider the point estimates, the rankings, and the certainty of the evidence comprehensively to draw conclusions. This article employs a case to describe and explain the principles and four steps of partially contextualised framework to provide guidance for the application of this GRADE approach in the interpretation of results and conclusions drawing from a network meta-analysis.

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