Propensity Score-Based Methods in Comparative Effectiveness Research on Coronary Artery Disease

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This review examines the conduct and reporting of observational studies using propensity score-based methods to compare coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG), percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), or medical therapy for patients with coronary artery disease. A systematic selection process identified 48 studies: 20 addressing CABG versus PCI; 21 addressing bare-metal stents versus drug-eluting stents; 5 addressing CABG versus medical therapy; 1 addressing PCI versus medical therapy; and 1 addressing drug-eluting stents versus balloon angioplasty. Of 32 studies reporting information on variable selection, 7 relied exclusively on statistical criteria for the association of covariates with treatment, and 5 used such criteria to determine whether product or nonlinear terms should be included in the propensity score model. Twenty-five (52%) studies reported assessing covariate balance using the estimated propensity score, but only 1 described modifications to the propensity score model based on this assessment. The over 400 variables used in the 48 propensity score models were classified into 12 categories and 60 subcategories; only 17 subcategories were represented in at least half of the propensity score models. Overall, reporting of propensity score-based methods in observational studies comparing CABG, PCI, and medical therapy was incomplete; when adequately described, the methods used were often inconsistent with current methodological standards.

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