A new medical website — TheNNT.com — explains to patients and physicians how well a particular treatment or medicine is likely to work based on a statistical model called the “Number Needed to Treat.” The NNT is “a measurement of the impact of a medicine or therapy by estimating the number of patients that need to be treated in order to have an impact on one person.”
According to the site: “The NNT is an intuitive and simple way of estimating how likely it is that a treatment or medicine will help an individual person. And it turns out that the NNT for a drug or intervention is easily calculated from the results of any trial done on that drug or intervention. Since most drugs and interventions have been studied at some point we know and can estimate an NNT for many (if not most) of the things that we do, which means that physicians and their patients can easily determine and discuss the likelihood that a patient will be helped, or harmed, or unaffected, by a given medication or procedure.”
Graham Walker, chief emergency resident at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center in New York City, said in the Wall St. Journal that he was surprised that data on the effectiveness of treatments “was out there, but not easily accessible.” Along with two of his attendings, Walker learned they had also “been thinking about whether there’s a way to disseminate this information more easily.”
The developers explain that “the core value of the NNT is its straightforward communication of the science that can help us understand the likelihood that a patient will be helped, harmed, or unaffected by a treatment.” Take a look at the site and let us know if you think it will be useful in daily practice.