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01.12.2012 | Methodology | Ausgabe 1/2012 Open Access

Malaria Journal 1/2012

Multiple treatment comparisons in a series of anti-malarial trials with an ordinal primary outcome and repeated treatment evaluations

Malaria Journal > Ausgabe 1/2012
Solange Whegang Youdom, Adeline Samson, Leonardo K Basco, Jean-Christophe Thalabard
Wichtige Hinweise

Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (doi:10.​1186/​1475-2875-11-147) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Authors’ contributions

SWY developed the analysis plan and carried out both the statistical analyses and software implementations under the close supervision of AS and JCT. She also drafted the manuscript. LKB was responsible for the overall data collection and supervision of clinical trials. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.



Artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACT) are widely used in African countries, including Cameroon. Between 2005 and 2007, five randomized studies comparing different treatment arms among artesunate-amodiaquine and other ACT were conducted in Cameroonian children aged two to 60 months who had uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria. In these studies, the categorical criterion proposed by the World Health Organization (WHO) to assess the relative effectiveness of anti-malarial drugs was repeatedly evaluated on Days 14, 21 and 28 after treatment initiation. The aim of the present study was to compare the effects of different treatments on this repeated ordinal outcome, hence using the fully available information.


The quantitative synthesis was based on individual patient data. Due to the incomplete block design concerning treatment arms between different trials, a mixed treatment comparison (MTC) meta-analysis approach was adopted. The repeated ordinal outcome was modelled through a latent variable, as a proportional odds mixed model with trial, period and treatment arms as covariates. The model was further complexified to account for the variance heterogeneity, and the individual log-residual variance was modelled as a linear mixed model, as well. The effects of individual covariates at inclusion, such as parasitaemia, fever, gender and weight, were also tested. Model parameters were estimated using a Bayesian approach via the WinBUGS software. After selecting the best model using Deviance Information Criterion (DIC), mixed treatment comparisons were based on the estimated treatment effects.


Modeling the residual variance improved the model ability to adjust the data. The results showed that, compared to artesunate-amodiaquine (ASAQ), dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine (DHPP) was significantly more efficacious. Artesunate-chlorproguanil-dapsone (ASCD) was less efficacious than artesunate-sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine (ASSP), artemether-lumefantrine (AMLM) and DHPP, the difference with the latter being significant. No difference in efficacy was found between ASAQ and AMLM.


Bayesian mixed treatment comparisons of a network of connected randomized trials with repeated measurements of the primary categorical outcome allowed to take into account both the individual- and between- studies sources of heterogeneity. The results of the present study complete the previous quantitative review based on a binary outcome at a fixed time point, suggesting that DHPP represents an alternative for the treatment of uncomplicated P. falciparum malaria in Cameroonian children.
Authors’ original file for figure 1
Authors’ original file for figure 2
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