Background: External validation of prognostic models is necessary to assess the accuracy and generalizability of the model to new patients. If models are validated in a setting in which competing events occur, these competing risks should be accounted for when comparing predicted risks to observed outcomes.
Methods: We discuss existing measures of calibration and discrimination that incorporate competing events for time-to-event models. These methods are illustrated using a clinical-data example concerning the prediction of kidney failure in a population with advanced chronic kidney disease (CKD), using the guideline-recommended Kidney Failure Risk Equation (KFRE). The KFRE was developed using Cox regression in a diverse population of CKD patients and has been proposed for use in patients with advanced CKD in whom death is a frequent competing event.
Results: When validating the 5-year KFRE with methods that account for competing events, it becomes apparent that the 5-year KFRE considerably overestimates the real-world risk of kidney failure. The absolute overestimation was 10%age points on average and 29%age points in older high-risk patients.
Conclusions: It is crucial that competing events are accounted for during external validation to provide a more reliable assessment the performance of a model in clinical settings in which competing risks occur.
Keywords: Prediction; calibration; competing risks; discrimination; external validation; prognostic model.
© The Author(s) 2021. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the International Epidemiological Association.