Publication: Translating clinical trial results into personalized recommendations

Translating clinical trial results into personalized recommendations by considering multiple outcomes and subjective views.

NPJ Digital Medicine, 2019. 2:81.

Dagan N, Cohen-Stavi CJ, Avgil Tsadok M, Leibowitz M, Hoshen M, Karpati T, Akriv A, Gofer I, Gilutz H, Podjarny E, Bachmat E, Balicer RD.


Currently, clinicians rely mostly on population-level treatment effects from RCTs, usually considering the treatment’s benefits. This study proposes a process, focused on practical usability, for translating RCT data into personalized treatment recommendations that weighs benefits against harms and integrates subjective perceptions of relative severity. Intensive blood pressure treatment (IBPT) was selected as the test case to demonstrate the suggested process, which was divided into three phases: (1) Prediction models were developed using the Systolic Blood-Pressure Intervention Trial (SPRINT) data for benefits and adverse events of IBPT. The models were externally validated using retrospective Clalit Health Services (CHS) data; (2) Predicted risk reductions and increases from these models were used to create a yes/no IBPT recommendation by calculating a severity-weighted benefit-to-harm ratio; (3) Analysis outputs were summarized in a decision support tool. Based on the individual benefit-to-harm ratios, 62 and 84% of the SPRINT and CHS populations, respectively, would theoretically be recommended IBPT. The original SPRINT trial results of significant decrease in cardiovascular outcomes following IBPT persisted only in the group that received a “yes-treatment” recommendation by the suggested process, while the rate of serious adverse events was slightly higher in the “no-treatment” recommendation group. This process can be used to translate RCT data into individualized recommendations by identifying patients for whom the treatment’s benefits outweigh the harms, while considering subjective views of perceived severity of the different outcomes. The proposed approach emphasizes clinical practicality by mimicking physicians’ clinical decision-making process and integrating all recommendation outputs into a usable decision support tool.