Indirect and Mixed Treatment Comparisons

Course dates


For more details see the full course programme.


This course is for health economists, statisticians, and decision modellers interested in the extension of pair-wise meta-analysis to network meta-analysis (i.e. indirect treatment comparisons and mixed treatment comparisons - MTC), or anyone seeking an in-depth understanding of the statistical models for evidence synthesis, whether in the context of either clinical effectiveness or economic evaluation.

The course focuses on Bayesian methods for statistically combining evidence from networks of trials, integrating statistical estimation within a probabilistic modelling framework. The assumptions underlying both pair-wise meta-analysis and mixed treatment comparisons are critically examined. The course also covers methods for detecting and managing heterogeneity and inconsistency.

This is an informal, hands-on course, based on a mixture of lectures and practical work on published datasets using the Bayesian Markov chain Monte Carlo package WinBUGS. Course tutors are available throughout to answer questions and help with exercises.

Delegates who are new to WinBUGS should, when they have completed the course, be able to understand and code MTC analyses in WinBUGS, and to use WinBUGS for simple hierarchical models.

The course is a collaboration between the Department of Population Health Sciences, University of Bristol and the Department of Health Sciences, University of Leicester.

The methods taught on the course are designed to be fully compatible with the NICE Guide to the methods of technology appraisal 2013 and the NICE Decision Support Unit Technical Support Documents on Evidence Synthesis, and with the Report of the ISPOR Task Force on Indirect Comparisons.

What you will learn

By the end of the course participants will be able to:

  • conduct pair-wise, indirect comparison and mixed treatment comparison (IC/MTC) evidence synthesis using WinBUGS Bayesian software;
  • adjust for covariates;
  • integrate statistical evidence synthesis with probabilistic cost-effectiveness analysis;
  • assess the degree of heterogeneity and inconsistency in RCT data;
  • understand the assumptions and potential pitfalls in pair-wise and IC/MTC meta-analysis;
  • participants will also have an introductory understanding of Bayesian methods, hierarchical modeling, and be able to use WinBUGS software.

Intended audience

  • Anyone undertaking or managing health technology assessments, including in the context of cost-effectiveness analysis.
  • Statisticians, familiar with the principles of meta-analysis, who wish to learn about Bayesian methods for evidence synthesis particularly in the context of cost-effectiveness analysis.

Course pre-requisites

  • Participants should be familiar with the basic principles of meta-analysis and have a good working knowledge of logistic regression and statistical interaction.
  • Experience with programming in standard languages or statistical software.
  • Experience with probabilistic decision analysis in cost-effectiveness analysis would be an advantage but is not necessary.

Before the course all participants must:

  1. Bring a laptop computer to the course, with WinBUGS already downloaded from the BUGS Project website, the patch installed and key decoded. Detailed instructions on how to complete the Precourse preparation 2019 (PDF, 78kB)
  2. Make sure you study and run the example in the Tutorial.  Go To "Help", User Manual, then click on "Introduction".
  3. Also run the BLOCKER example in the online Help, (Examples Vol 1_Blocker).  NB you need to use initial values Inits2 for this to run. Study the code and the results.


Bookings closed


  • Student: £550*
  • Academic, public sector: £900
  • Commercial sector: £1,600

*The student rate is reserved for registered students on a student salary, not for those who have a paid position but are studying for a PhD alongside their employment. Those studying alongside a paid position will be charged the academic or commercial fees, as appropriate. If you have questions about this please contact the course administrator.

Please note that fees do not include accommodation. For more information see our booking terms & conditions.


M Shed
Princess Wharf
Wapping Road


The Bristol Hotel has a limited number of rooms reserved at a reduced price. Please quote the course name when booking. Please be aware, these are available on a first come, first serve basis.

Other nearby accommodation includes:

Lunch and course dinner

Lunch and refreshment breaks are provided daily.

There will be a course dinner on the first day of the course, which is included in the course fees.

We are able to accommodate most dietary requirements, where known in advance.


For further information please email

For enquiries about course content, please contact Tony Ades or Keith Abrams 

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