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Factors associated with physicians’ predictions of six-month mortality in critically ill patients

Journal of the Intensive Care Society August 1, 2020

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Research Areas

PAIR Center Research Team


BACKGROUND: Physician’s estimates of a patient’s prognosis are an important component in shared decision-making. However, the variables influencing physician’s judgments are not well understood. We aimed to determine which physician and patient factors are associated with physicians’ predictions of critically ill patients’ six-month mortality and the accuracy and confidence of these predictions.

METHODS: Prospective cohort study evaluating physicians’ predictions of six-month mortality. Using univariate and multivariable generalized estimating equations, we assessed the association between baseline physician and patient characteristics with predictions of six-month death, as well as accuracy and confidence of these predictions.

RESULTS: Our cohort was comprised 300 patients and 47 physicians. Physicians were asked to predict if patients would be alive or dead at six months and to report their confidence in these predictions. Physicians predicted that 99 (33%) patients would die. The key factors associated with both the direction and accuracy of prediction were older age of the patient, the presence of malignancy, being in a medical ICU, and higher APACHE III scores. The factors associated with lower confidence included older physician age, being in a medical ICU and higher APACHE III score.

CONCLUSIONS: Patient level factors are associated with predictions of mortality at six months. The accuracy and confidence of the predictions are associated with both physician and patients’ factors. The influence of these factors should be considered when physicians reflect on how they make predictions for critically ill patients.


National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)