Protocol for the development of a reporting guideline for causal and counterfactual prediction models in biomedicine

BMJ Open. 2022 Jun 20;12(6):e059715. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2021-059715.


Introduction: While there are guidelines for reporting on observational studies (eg, Strengthening the Reporting of Observational Studies in Epidemiology, Reporting of Studies Conducted Using Observational Routinely Collected Health Data Statement), estimation of causal effects from both observational data and randomised experiments (eg, A Guideline for Reporting Mediation Analyses of Randomised Trials and Observational Studies, Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials, PATH) and on prediction modelling (eg, Transparent Reporting of a multivariable prediction model for Individual Prognosis or Diagnosis), none is purposely made for deriving and validating models from observational data to predict counterfactuals for individuals on one or more possible interventions, on the basis of given (or inferred) causal structures. This paper describes methods and processes that will be used to develop a Reporting Guideline for Causal and Counterfactual Prediction Models (PRECOG).

Methods and analysis: PRECOG will be developed following published guidance from the Enhancing the Quality and Transparency of Health Research (EQUATOR) network and will comprise five stages. Stage 1 will be meetings of a working group every other week with rotating external advisors (active until stage 5). Stage 2 will comprise a systematic review of literature on counterfactual prediction modelling for biomedical sciences (registered in Prospective Register of Systematic Reviews). In stage 3, a computer-based, real-time Delphi survey will be performed to consolidate the PRECOG checklist, involving experts in causal inference, epidemiology, statistics, machine learning, informatics and protocols/standards. Stage 4 will involve the write-up of the PRECOG guideline based on the results from the prior stages. Stage 5 will seek the peer-reviewed publication of the guideline, the scoping/systematic review and dissemination.

Ethics and dissemination: The study will follow the principles of the Declaration of Helsinki. The study has been registered in EQUATOR and approved by the University of Florida's Institutional Review Board (#202200495). Informed consent will be obtained from the working groups and the Delphi survey participants. The dissemination of PRECOG and its products will be done through journal publications, conferences, websites and social media.

Keywords: Health informatics; Information technology; Protocols & guidelines.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Causality
  • Checklist*
  • Humans
  • Research Design*
  • Systematic Reviews as Topic