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October 24, 2010

BehindTheMedspeak: NNT (Number needed to treat) v NNH (Number needed to harm)

Both these acronyms are new to me, courtesy of Katherine Hobson's October 5, 2010 Wall Street Journal Health Blog post.

There's a new physician-created website called TheNNT.com which "looks at a stat called the 'number needed to treat,' which it defines as 'a measurement of the impact of a medicine or therapy [that estimates] the number of patients that need to be treated in order to have an impact on one person.' (Here's the new site's explanation of the NNT)."

"The site... also includes, when appropriate, the 'number needed to harm,' which indicates how many people you’d have to treat before one is harmed by the intervention. Both stats are presented as a proportion — i.e. one in 42 people will have his or her life saved by taking aspirin after a major heart attack (an NNT of 42), and one in 167 will have non-dangerous bleeding (a NNH of 167)."

"A perfect NNT would be one — treat one person, and one person benefits. The higher the NNH, the better."

[via Shawn Lea]

October 24, 2010 at 12:01 PM | Permalink


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