Bayes to the Rescue: Continuous Positive Airway Pressure Has Less Mortality Than High-Flow Oxygen

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Abstract

Objectives:

The merits of high-flow nasal cannula oxygen versus bubble continuous positive airway pressure are debated in children with pneumonia, with suggestions that randomized controlled trials are needed. In light of a previous randomized controlled trial showing a trend for lower mortality with bubble continuous positive airway pressure, we sought to determine the probability that a new randomized controlled trial would find high-flow nasal cannula oxygen superior to bubble continuous positive airway pressure through a “robust” Bayesian analysis.

Desing, Setting, Patients, and Interventions:

Sample data were extracted from the trial by Chisti et al, and requisite to “robust” Bayesian analysis, we specified three prior distributions to represent clinically meaningful assumptions. These priors (reference, pessimistic, and optimistic) were used to generate three scenarios to represent the range of possible hypotheses. 1) “Reference”: we believe bubble continuous positive airway pressure and high-flow nasal cannula oxygen are equally effective with the same uninformative reference priors; 2) “Sceptic on high-flow nasal cannula oxygen”: we believe that bubble continuous positive airway pressure is better than high-flow nasal cannula oxygen (bubble continuous positive airway pressure has an optimistic prior and high-flow nasal cannula oxygen has a pessimistic prior); and 3) “Enthusiastic on high-flow nasal cannula oxygen”: we believe that high-flow nasal cannula oxygen is better than bubble continuous positive airway pressure (high-flow nasal cannula oxygen has an optimistic prior and bubble continuous positive airway pressure has a pessimistic prior). Finally, posterior empiric Bayesian distributions were obtained through 100,000 Markov Chain Monte Carlo simulations.

Measurements and Main Results:

In all three scenarios, there was a high probability for more death from high-flow nasal cannula oxygen compared with bubble continuous positive airway pressure (reference, 0.98; sceptic on high-flow nasal cannula oxygen, 0.982; enthusiastic on high-flow nasal cannula oxygen, 0.742). The posterior 95% credible interval on the difference in mortality identified a future randomized controlled trial would be extremely unlikely to find a mortality benefit for high-flow nasal cannula oxygen over bubble continuous positive airway pressure, regardless of the scenario. Interpreting these findings using the “range of practical equivalence” framework would recommend rejecting the hypothesis that high-flow nasal cannula oxygen is superior to bubble continuous positive airway pressure for these children.

Conclusions:

For children younger than 5 years with pneumonia, high-flow nasal cannula oxygen has higher mortality than bubble continuous positive airway pressure. A future randomized controlled trial in this population is unlikely to find high-flow nasal cannula oxygen superior to bubble continuous positive airway pressure.

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