A generalised model for individualising a treatment recommendation based on group-level evidence from randomised clinical trials
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OBJECTIVES: Randomised controlled trials report group-level treatment effects. However, an individual patient confronting a treatment decision needs to know whether that person's expected treatment benefit will exceed the expected treatment harm. We describe a flexible model for individualising a treatment decision. It individualises group-level results from randomised trials using clinical prediction guides. METHODS: We constructed models that estimate the size of individualised absolute risk reduction (ARR) for the target outcome that is required to offset individualised absolute risk increase (ARI) for the treatment harm. Inputs to the model include estimates for the individualised predicted absolute treatment benefit and harm, and the relative value assigned by the patient to harm/benefit. A decision rule recommends treatment when the predicted benefit exceeds the predicted harm, value-adjusted. We also derived expressions for the maximum treatment harm, or the maximum relative value for harm/benefit, above which treatment would not be recommended. RESULTS: For the simpler model, including one kind of benefit and one kind of harm, the individualised ARR required to justify treatment was expressed as required ARRtarget(i)=ARIharm(i) × RVharm/target(i). A complex model was also developed, applicable to treatments causing multiple kinds of benefits and/or harms. We demonstrated the applicability of the models to treatments tested in superiority trials (either placebo or active control, either fixed harm or variable harm) and non-inferiority trials. CONCLUSIONS: Individualised treatment recommendations can be derived using a model that applies clinical prediction guides to the results of randomised trials in order to identify which individual patients are likely to derive a clinically important benefit from the treatment. The resulting individualised prediction-based recommendations require validation by comparison with strategies of treat all or treat none.