Background: Different stakeholders, as clinicians, patients, policy makers and health information professionals, use results obtained from systematic reviews for different needs.
Objectives: To explore the type of graphical representation of results from a network meta-analysis (NMA) that different stakeholders would prefer.
Methods: We investigated how different stakeholders understand the outputs from a NMA1 and assess their helpfulness. An online national survey was conducted using an ad hoc questionnaire developed for each type of stakeholder. Results from a NMA on disease modifying drugs for multiple sclerosis (MS), including the quality of evidence evaluated by GRADE, were reported in the questionnaires. These results were represented by using network plots, tables, histograms and graphs with horizontal segments. The Italian Foundation on Multiple Sclerosis supported the project.
Results: Information on the numbers of questionnaires received for each type of stakeholder and the graphical representations used in the questionnaires are reported in the attachment. Neurologists would use the graph displaying the treatment effects by horizontal segments (36% of responders) to inform themselves, followed by the table (27% of responders); while 32% of neurologists would use the histogram to communicate the treatment benefits to people with MS, followed by the graph with horizontal segments (23% of responders). Sixty-six per cent of people with MS or their relatives would prefer to be informed by the histogram and table. Health information professionals considered the histogram and the table the most informative (44% of responders) and the most useful ways to inform their readers (56% of responders). The survey for policy makers is ongoing and results will be presented at the Summit.
Conclusions: Neurologists, people with MS and health information professionals judged the histogram and the table reporting results from NMA as the most useful source of information.