The Importance of Integrating Clinical Relevance and Statistical Significance in the Assessment of Quality of Care - Illustrated Using the Swedish Stroke Register
2016 (English)In: PLoS ONE, ISSN 1932-6203, E-ISSN 1932-6203, Vol. 11, no 4, e0153082Article in journal (Refereed) Published
BACKGROUND: When profiling hospital performance, quality inicators are commonly evaluated through hospital-specific adjusted means with confidence intervals. When identifying deviations from a norm, large hospitals can have statistically significant results even for clinically irrelevant deviations while important deviations in small hospitals can remain undiscovered. We have used data from the Swedish Stroke Register (Riksstroke) to illustrate the properties of a benchmarking method that integrates considerations of both clinical relevance and level of statistical significance.
METHODS: The performance measure used was case-mix adjusted risk of death or dependency in activities of daily living within 3 months after stroke. A hospital was labeled as having outlying performance if its case-mix adjusted risk exceeded a benchmark value with a specified statistical confidence level. The benchmark was expressed relative to the population risk and should reflect the clinically relevant deviation that is to be detected. A simulation study based on Riksstroke patient data from 2008-2009 was performed to investigate the effect of the choice of the statistical confidence level and benchmark value on the diagnostic properties of the method.
RESULTS: Simulations were based on 18,309 patients in 76 hospitals. The widely used setting, comparing 95% confidence intervals to the national average, resulted in low sensitivity (0.252) and high specificity (0.991). There were large variations in sensitivity and specificity for different requirements of statistical confidence. Lowering statistical confidence improved sensitivity with a relatively smaller loss of specificity. Variations due to different benchmark values were smaller, especially for sensitivity. This allows the choice of a clinically relevant benchmark to be driven by clinical factors without major concerns about sufficiently reliable evidence.
CONCLUSIONS: The study emphasizes the importance of combining clinical relevance and level of statistical confidence when profiling hospital performance. To guide the decision process a web-based tool that gives ROC-curves for different scenarios is provided.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. Vol. 11, no 4, e0153082
Probability Theory and Statistics
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-119030DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0153082ISI: 000373608000075PubMedID: 27054326OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-119030DiVA: diva2:917939