The fragility index (FI) is a sensitivity analysis of the statistically significant result of a clinical study. It is the number of hypothetical changes in the primary event of one of the two cohorts in a 1-to-1 comparative trial to render the statistically significant result non-significant (ie, to alter the P-value from ≤0.05 to >0.05). The FI can be compared with the patient drop-out rates and protocol violations, which, if much higher than the FI, may arguably suggest less robustness/stability of the trial's results. To illustrate the concept, we have chosen the Term Breech Trial (TBT) as a case study. The TBT results favor planned cesarean birth, as opposed to planned vaginal delivery, in the term singleton fetus with breech presentation. Our analysis shows that the FI of the TBT is 21, which is small in comparison to the number (hundreds) of protocol violations present. Some experts have suggested the inclusion of the FI in data analysis and subsequent discussion of clinical trial data. Routine use of such a metric may be valuable in encouraging readers to maintain a healthy degree of skepticism, especially when interpreting trial results which may directly influence clinical practice.
Keywords: Term Breech Trial; fragility index.
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