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Mortality prediction models hold substantial promise as tools for patient management, quality assessment, and perhaps health care resource allocation planning. Yet we know relatively little about the predictive validity of these models. This study, reprinted from Statistics in Medicine, compares the cross-validation performance of seven statistical models of patient mortality: (1) ordinary-least-squares (OLS) regression predicting 0/1 death status six months after admission; (2) logistic regression; (3) Cox regression; (4-6) three unit-weight models derived from the logistic regression, and (7) a recursive partitioning classification technique (CART). The authors calculated the following performance statistics for each model in both a learning and test sample of patients, all of whom were drawn from a nationally representative sample of 2,558 Medicare patients with acute myocardial infarction: overall accuracy in predicting six-month mortality, sensitivity and specificity rates, positive and negative predictive values, and percent improvement in accuracy rates and error rates over model-free predictions. The authors developed ROC curves based on logistic regression, the best unit-weighted model, the single best predictor variable, and a series of CART models generated by varying the misclassification cost specifications. The models reduced model-free error rates at the patient level by 8-22% in the test sample. The authors found that the performance of the logistic regression models was marginally superior to that of other models. The areas under the ROC curves for the best models ranged from 0.61 to 0.63. Overall predictive accuracy for the best models may be adequate to support activities such as quality assessment that involve aggregating over large groups of patients, but the extent to which these models may be appropriately applied to patient-level resource allocation planning is less clear.

Originally published in: Statistics in Medicine, v. 11, 1992, pp. 475-489.

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