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August 21, 2002

Interpreting the Number Needed to Treat—Reply

Author Affiliations

Stephen J.LurieMD, PhD, Senior EditorIndividualAuthor

JAMA. 2002;288(7):830-832. doi:10.1001/jama.288.7.828

In Reply: The objective of our article was to assess the pattern used in reporting results of RCTs. We demonstrated that there was a strong preference for reporting relative risk reduction (RRR). I agree with Drs Wu and Kottke that the NNT must be interpreted with caution. It is inappropriate to use the NNT to compare the results of a study with patients at one baseline risk to patients with a different risk and to extrapolate the NNT to time points not considered in the trial.1,2 Nevertheless, the methods used to display data may influence the interpretation of the study results,3 and exclusive use of RRR may mislead the reader.4

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