Research Article

Why is the outcome of transient ischaemic attacks different in different groups of patients?

BMJ 1993; 306 doi: (Published 24 April 1993) Cite this as: BMJ 1993;306:1107
  1. G J Hankey,
  2. M S Dennis,
  3. J M Slattery,
  4. C P Warlow
  1. Department of Neurology, Royal Perth Hospital, Western Australia.


    The outcomes of each of three large cohorts of patients with transient ischaemic attacks, which were studied in the same country at much the same time with the same methods, were compared and found to be quite different from each other. The differences in outcome were related not only to different strategies of treatment but also to differences in the prevalence and level of important prognostic factors (for example, case mix) and other factors such a the time delay from transient ischaemic attack to entry into the study and the play of chance. The implications for purchasers of health care are that they cannot rely solely on non-randomised comparisons of outcome of patients treated in competing units as a measure of the quality of care (which has only rather modest effects) without accounting for other factors that may influence outcome such as the nature of the illness, the case mix, observer bias, and the play of chance.