Accuracy of physician-estimated probability of brain injury in children with minor head trauma

Pediatric Emergency Research Canada [PERC] Head Injury Study Group

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Objective: To evaluate the accuracy of physician estimates of the probability of intracranial injury in children with minor head trauma. Methods: This is a subanalysis of a large prospective multicentre cohort study performed from July 2001 to November2005. During data collection for the derivation of a clinical prediction rule for children with minor head trauma, physicians indicated their estimate of the probability of brain injury visible on computed tomography (P-Injury) and the probability of injury requiring intervention (P-Intervention) by choosing one of the following options: 0%, 1%, 2%, 3%, 4%, 5%, 10%, 20%, 30%, 40%, 50%, 75%, 90%, and 100%. We compared observed frequencies to expected frequencies of injury using Pearson’s χ2-test in analyses stratified by the level of each type of predicted probability and by year of age. Results: In 3771 eligible subjects, the mean predicted risk was 4.6% (P-Injury) and 1.4% (P-Intervention). The observed frequency of injury was 4.1% (any injury) and 0.6% (intervention). For all levels of P-Injury from 1% to 40%, the observed frequency of injury was consistent with the expected frequency. The observed frequencies for the 50%, 75%, and 90% levels were lower than expected (p<0.05). For estimates of P-Intervention, the observed frequency was consistently higher than the expected frequency. Physicians underestimated risk for infants (mean P-Intervention 6.2%, actual risk 12.3%, p<0.001). Conclusions: Physician estimates of probability of any brain injury in children were collectively accurate for children with low and moderate degrees of predicted risk. Risk was underestimated in infants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)387-394
Number of pages8
JournalCanadian Journal of Emergency Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Emergency Medicine


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