Clinical prediction models for mortality in patients with covid-19: external validation and individual participant data meta-analysis

de Jong VMT, Rousset RZ, Antonio-Villa NE, Buenen AG, Van Calster B, Bello-Chavolla OY, et al.

Objective: To externally validate various prognostic models and scoring rules for predicting short term mortality in patients admitted to hospital for covid-19.

Design: Two stage individual participant data meta-analysis.

Setting: Secondary and tertiary care.

Participants: 46914 patients across 18 countries, admitted to a hospital with polymerase chain reaction confirmed covid-19 from November 2019 to April 2021.

Data sources: Multiple (clustered) cohorts in Brazil, Belgium, China, Czech Republic, Egypt, France, Iran, Israel, Italy, Mexico, Netherlands, Portugal, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, and United States previously identified by a living systematic review of covid-19 prediction models published in The BMJ, and through PROSPERO, reference checking, and expert knowledge.

Model selection and eligibility criteria: Prognostic models identified by the living systematic review and through contacting experts. A priori models were excluded that had a high risk of bias in the participant domain of PROBAST (prediction model study risk of bias assessment tool) or for which the applicability was deemed poor.

Methods: Eight prognostic models with diverse predictors were identified and validated. A two stage individual participant data meta-analysis was performed of the estimated model concordance (C) statistic, calibration slope, calibration-in-the-large, and observed to expected ratio (O:E) across the included clusters.

Main outcome measures: 30 day mortality or in-hospital mortality.

Results: Datasets included 27 clusters from 18 different countries and contained data on 46 914patients. The pooled estimates ranged from 0.67 to 0.80 (C statistic), 0.22 to 1.22 (calibration slope), and 0.18 to 2.59 (O:E ratio) and were prone to substantial between study heterogeneity. The 4C Mortality Score by Knight et al (pooled C statistic 0.80, 95% confidence interval 0.75 to 0.84, 95% prediction interval 0.72 to 0.86) and clinical model by Wang et al (0.77, 0.73 to 0.80, 0.63 to 0.87) had the highest discriminative ability. On average, 29% fewer deaths were observed than predicted by the 4C Mortality Score (pooled O:E 0.71, 95% confidence interval 0.45 to 1.11, 95% prediction interval 0.21 to 2.39), 35% fewer than predicted by the Wang clinical model (0.65, 0.52 to 0.82, 0.23 to 1.89), and 4% fewer than predicted by Xie et al's model (0.96, 0.59 to 1.55, 0.21 to 4.28).

Conclusion: The prognostic value of the included models varied greatly between the data sources. Although the Knight 4C Mortality Score and Wang clinical model appeared most promising, recalibration (intercept and slope updates) is needed before implementation in routine care.

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