Ann Intern Med. 2022 Jun 14. doi: 10.7326/M22-0276. Online ahead of print.
Whereas diagnostic tests help detect the cause of signs and symptoms, prognostic tests assist in evaluating the probable course of the disease and future outcome. Studies to evaluate prognostic tests are longitudinal, which introduces sources of bias different from those for diagnostic accuracy studies. At present, systematic reviews of prognostic tests often use the QUADAS-2 (Quality Assessment of Diagnostic Accuracy Studies 2) tool to assess risk of bias and applicability of included studies because no equivalent instrument exists for prognostic accuracy studies.
QUAPAS (Quality Assessment of Prognostic Accuracy Studies) is an adaptation of QUADAS-2 for prognostic accuracy studies. Questions likely to identify bias were evaluated in parallel and collated from QUIPS (Quality in Prognosis Studies) and PROBAST (Prediction Model Risk of Bias Assessment Tool) and paired to the corresponding question (or domain) in QUADAS-2. A steering group conducted and reviewed 3 rounds of modifications before arriving at the final set of domains and signaling questions.
QUAPAS follows the same steps as QUADAS-2: Specify the review question, tailor the tool, draw a flow diagram, judge risk of bias, and identify applicability concerns. Risk of bias is judged across the following 5 domains: participants, index test, outcome, flow and timing, and analysis. Signaling questions assist the final judgment for each domain. Applicability concerns are assessed for the first 4 domains.
The authors used QUAPAS in parallel with QUADAS-2 and QUIPS in a systematic review of prognostic accuracy studies. QUAPAS improved the assessment of the flow and timing domain and flagged a study at risk of bias in the new analysis domain. Judgment of risk of bias in the analysis domain was challenging because of sparse reporting of statistical methods.