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Dakin H, Welton N, Ades T, Collins S, Orme M, Kelly S. Mixed treatment comparison of repeated measurements of a continuous endpoint: An example using topical treatments for primary open-angle glaucoma and ocular hypertension. Stat Med. Epub ahead of print 05/07/11


Mixed treatment comparison (MTC) meta-analyses estimate relative treatment effects from networks of evidence while preserving randomisation. We extend the MTC framework to allow for repeated measurements of a continuous endpoint that varies over time. We used, as a case study, a systematic review and meta-analysis of intraocular pressure (IOP) measurements from randomised controlled trials evaluating topical ocular hypotensives in primary open-angle glaucoma or ocular hypertension because IOP varies over the day and over the treatment course, and repeated measurements are frequently reported. We adopted models for conducting MTC in WinBUGS (The BUGS Project, Cambridge, UK) to allow for repeated IOP measurements and to impute missing standard deviations of the raw data using the predictive distribution from observations with standard deviations. A flexible model with an unconstrained baseline for IOP variations over time and time-invariant random treatment effects fitted the data well. We also adopted repeated measures models to allow for class effects; assuming treatment effects to be exchangeable within classes slightly improved model fit but could bias estimated treatment effects if exchangeability assumptions were not valid. We enabled all timepoints to be included in the analysis, allowing for repeated measures to increase precision around treatment effects and avoid bias associated with selecting timepoints for meta-analysis.The methods we developed for modelling repeated measures and allowing for missing data may be adapted for use in other MTC meta-analyses.

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