A methodological appraisal of research on prognosis after transient ischemic attacks.
We analyzed existing research on the prognosis of patients who have had a transient ischemic attack to identify studies that adhere to basic methodological principles and to identify underinvestigated questions. Studies were eligible for analysis if they were published in peer-reviewed journals after 1950, written in English, and included at least 50 patients with transient ischemia. Studies that included patients with stroke were included only if they reported outcome rates separately for the subgroup of patients with transient ischemia. All eligible studies were extracted by one investigator who recorded adherence to six key methodological principles. Among 60 eligible studies, 54 were observational cohort studies and six were randomized trials. Adherence to the six methodological principles was as follows: eight studies included an adequate description of diagnostic criteria and of procedures used to assure adherence to the criteria, 54 used appropriate end points, two assembled inception cohorts, 10 included an adequate description of end point surveillance, 22 adequately reported and analyzed censored patients, and 10 included a multivariate analysis for predictive variables. No study adhered to all six principles, but two adhered to the three most important ones (appropriate end points, inception cohort, and adequate reporting and analysis of censored patients). Aspects of prognosis after transient ischemia that have not been completely investigated include the severity of subsequent strokes and methods for estimating the outcome risk for individual patients. We conclude that only a few published investigations on prognosis after transient ischemia are methodologically complete. This finding helps explain why it is difficult to interpret many studies. Further research is needed and should target underinvestigated topics.
- Copyright © 1991 by American Heart Association