Collecting data for an individual participant data meta‐analysis (IPDMA) project can be time consuming and resource intensive and could still have insufficient power to answer the question of interest. Therefore, researchers should consider the power of their planned IPDMA before collecting IPD. Here we propose a method to estimate the power of a planned IPDMA project aiming to synthesise multiple cohort studies to investigate the (unadjusted or adjusted) effects of potential prognostic factors for a binary outcome. We consider both binary and continuous factors and provide a three‐step approach to estimating the power in advance of collecting IPD, under an assumption of the true prognostic effect of each factor of interest. The first step uses routinely available (published) aggregate data for each study to approximate Fisher's information matrix and thereby estimate the anticipated variance of the unadjusted prognostic factor effect in each study. These variances are then used in step 2 to estimate the anticipated variance of the summary prognostic effect from the IPDMA. Finally, step 3 uses this variance to estimate the corresponding IPDMA power, based on a two‐sided Wald test and the assumed true effect. Extensions are provided to adjust the power calculation for the presence of additional covariates correlated with the prognostic factor of interest (by using a variance inflation factor) and to allow for between‐study heterogeneity in prognostic effects. An example is provided for illustration, and Stata code is supplied to enable researchers to implement the method.

Journal article

Research synthesis methods

Wiley

24/07/2024

prognostic factor effects, predictor effects, individual participant data (IPD) meta‐analysis, power, sample size