BACKGROUND: Randomised clinical trials in critical care are prone to inconclusiveness owing, in part, to undue optimism about effect sizes and suboptimal accounting for heterogeneous treatment effects. Planned predictive enrichment based on secondary critical care data (often very rich with respect to both data types and temporal granularity) and causal inference methods may help overcome these challenges, but no overview exists about their use to this end.
METHODS: We will conduct a scoping review to assess the extent and nature of the use of causal inference from secondary data for planned predictive enrichment of randomised clinical trials in critical care. We will systematically search 10 general and specialty journals for reports published on or after 1 January 2018, of randomised clinical trials enrolling adult critically ill patients. We will collect trial metadata (e.g., recruitment period and phase) and, when available, information pertaining to the focus of the review (predictive enrichment based on causal inference estimates from secondary data): causal inference methods, estimation techniques and software used; types of patient populations; data provenance, types and models; and the availability of the data (public or not). The results will be reported in a descriptive manner.
DISCUSSION: The outlined scoping review aims to assess the use of causal inference methods and secondary data for planned predictive enrichment in randomised critical care trials. This will help guide methodological improvements to increase the utility, and facilitate the use, of causal inference estimates when planning such trials in the future.