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Predicting the risk of 1-year mortality in incident dialysis patients: accounting for case-mix severity in studies using administrative data

Quinn RR, Laupacis A, Hux JE, Oliver MJ, Austin PC. Med Care. 2011; 49(3):257-66. Epub 2011 Mar 1.

Background — Administrative databases are increasingly being used to study the incident dialysis population and have important advantages. However, traditional methods of risk adjustment have limitations in this patient population.

Objective —The objective was to develop a prognostic index for 1-year mortality in incident dialysis patients using administrative data that was applicable to ambulatory patients, used objective definitions of candidate predictor variables, and was easily replicated in other environments.

Research Design — Anonymized, administrative health data housed at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences in Toronto, Canada were used to identify a population-based sample of 16,205 patients who initiated dialysis between July 1, 1998, and March 31, 2005. The cohort was divided into derivation, validation, and testing samples and 4 different strategies were used to derive candidate logistic regression models for 1-year mortality. The final risk prediction model was selected based on discriminatory ability (as measured by the c-statistic) and a risk prediction score was derived using methods adopted from the Framingham Heart Study. Calibration of the predictive model was assessed graphically.

Results — The risk of death during the first year of dialysis therapy was 16.4% in the derivation sample. The final model had a c-statistic of 0.765, 0.763 and 0.756 in the derivation, validation, and testing samples, respectively. Plots of actual versus predicted risk of death at 1-year showed good calibration.

Conclusion — The prognostic index and summary risk score accurately predict 1-year mortality in incident dialysis patients and can be used for the purposes of risk adjustment.