Singh, J, Gsteiger, S, Wheaton, L, Riley, RD, Abrams, KR, Gillies, CL and Bujkiewicz, S (2022) Bayesian network meta-analysis methods for combining individual participant data and aggregate data from single arm trials and randomised controlled trials. BMC Medical Research Methodology, 22 (1). 186 - ?. ISSN 1471-2288

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BACKGROUND: Increasingly in network meta-analysis (NMA), there is a need to incorporate non-randomised evidence to estimate relative treatment effects, and in particular in cases with limited randomised evidence, sometimes resulting in disconnected networks of treatments. When combining different sources of data, complex NMA methods are required to address issues associated with participant selection bias, incorporating single-arm trials (SATs), and synthesising a mixture of individual participant data (IPD) and aggregate data (AD). We develop NMA methods which synthesise data from SATs and randomised controlled trials (RCTs), using a mixture of IPD and AD, for a dichotomous outcome. METHODS: We propose methods under both contrast-based (CB) and arm-based (AB) parametrisations, and extend the methods to allow for both within- and across-trial adjustments for covariate effects. To illustrate the methods, we use an applied example investigating the effectiveness of biologic disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs for rheumatoid arthritis (RA). We applied the methods to a dataset obtained from a literature review consisting of 14 RCTs and an artificial dataset consisting of IPD from two SATs and AD from 12 RCTs, where the artificial dataset was created by removing the control arms from the only two trials assessing tocilizumab in the original dataset. RESULTS: Without adjustment for covariates, the CB method with independent baseline response parameters (CBunadjInd) underestimated the effectiveness of tocilizumab when applied to the artificial dataset compared to the original dataset, albeit with significant overlap in posterior distributions for treatment effect parameters. The CB method with exchangeable baseline response parameters produced effectiveness estimates in agreement with CBunadjInd, when the predicted baseline response estimates were similar to the observed baseline response. After adjustment for RA duration, there was a reduction in across-trial heterogeneity in baseline response but little change in treatment effect estimates. CONCLUSIONS: Our findings suggest incorporating SATs in NMA may be useful in some situations where a treatment is disconnected from a network of comparator treatments, due to a lack of comparative evidence, to estimate relative treatment effects. The reliability of effect estimates based on data from SATs may depend on adjustment for covariate effects, although further research is required to understand this in more detail.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data.
Uncontrolled Keywords: evidence synthesis; network meta-analysis; single-arm trials; individual participant data; arm-based methods; Bayesian hierarchical methods; Rheumatoid arthritis; Observational evidence
Subjects: R Medicine > R Medicine (General)
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine
Divisions: Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > School of Medicine
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Depositing User: Symplectic
Date Deposited: 03 Aug 2022 08:48
Last Modified: 03 Aug 2022 08:48

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