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Table 1 Advantages/disadvantages of NMA and MAIC

From: The need for comparative data in spondyloarthritis

Network meta-analysis (NMA) Matching-adjusted indirect comparison (MAIC)
 • Compares multiple treatments using published aggregate data
 • Can connect head-to-head RCTs and other RCTs via a common comparator (usually placebo)
 • Multiple simultaneous indirect paths
 • Based on relative effects, so randomisation is preserved
 • Established methodology
• Reduces heterogeneity between trials by matching the patient population
• Treatment effects have clear clinical context for interpretation
• Possible with and without placebo adjustment
• Long-term analyses feasible
 • Assumes trials are comparable in terms of design and population (low heterogeneity)
 • Requires a common comparator (connected evidence network)
 • Often only short-term comparison due to lack of a long-term connected network (placebo switching)
• Evolving method—NICE Technical Support Document published in December 2016 [2]
• Interferes with/breaks randomisation
• Reduced patient sample size
• Only a single indirect path
• Can only match observed characteristics, so heterogeneity may remain
  1. Adapted from Ishak et al. [1]
  2. MAIC matching-adjusted indirect comparison, NMA network meta-analysis, RCT randomised controlled trials