Use of Number Needed to Treat in Cost-effectiveness Analyses

Vishvas Garg MBA BPharm, PhD; Xian Shen MS, PhD; Yan Cheng MS, PhD; James J Nawarskas PharmD BCPS; Dennis W Raisch PhD MS RPh


The Annals of Pharmacotherapy. 2013;47(3):380-387. 

In This Article


We reviewed the literature to identify studies that reported results of CEAs along with NNT and/or NNH. We found that CEA studies incorporating NNT are generally published in clinician-practice-focused journals, but represent a small proportion of total published CEAs. Furthermore, only 14.5% and 4.3% of the CEA articles incorporating NNT focused on disease management and educational interventions, respectively. Since NNT/NNH are often used as decision tools by clinicians, it may increase clinical relevance and application of CEA results to include this information. Increased understanding of relationships between CEA and NNT/NNH may help clinicians apply CEA findings in practice. We recommend further research to explore whether NNT/NNH could be meaningfully incorporated into health economic evaluation studies.