Statistical analysis plan for the POLAR-RCT: The Prophylactic hypOthermia trial to Lessen trAumatic bRain injury-Randomised Controlled Trial

Jeffrey Presneill, Dashiell Gantner, Alistair Nichol, Colin McArthur, Andrew Forbes, Jessica Kasza, Tony Trapani, Lynnette Murray, Stephen Bernard, Peter Cameron, Gilles Capellier, Olivier Huet, Lynette Newby, Stephen Rashford, Jeffrey V. Rosenfeld, Tony Smith, Michael Stephenson, Dinesh Varma, Shirley Vallance, Tony WalkerSteve Webb, D. James Cooper

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6 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The Prophylactic hypOthermia to Lessen trAumatic bRain injury-Randomised Controlled Trial (POLAR-RCT) will evaluate whether early and sustained prophylactic hypothermia delivered to patients with severe traumatic brain injury improves patient-centred outcomes. Methods: The POLAR-RCT is a multicentre, randomised, parallel group, phase III trial of early, prophylactic cooling in critically ill patients with severe traumatic brain injury, conducted in Australia, New Zealand, France, Switzerland, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. A total of 511 patients aged 18-60 years have been enrolled with severe acute traumatic brain injury. The trial intervention of early and sustained prophylactic hypothermia to 33 °C for 72 h will be compared to standard normothermia maintained at a core temperature of 37 °C. The primary outcome is the proportion of favourable neurological outcomes, comprising good recovery or moderate disability, observed at six months following randomisation utilising a midpoint dichotomisation of the Extended Glasgow Outcome Scale (GOSE). Secondary outcomes, also assessed at six months following randomisation, include the probability of an equal or greater GOSE level, mortality, the proportions of patients with haemorrhage or infection, as well as assessment of quality of life and health economic outcomes. The planned sample size will allow 80% power to detect a 30% relative risk increase from 50% to 65% (equivalent to a 15% absolute risk increase) in favourable neurological outcome at a two-sided alpha of 0.05. Discussion: Consistent with international guidelines, a detailed and prospective analysis plan has been developed for the POLAR-RCT. This plan specifies the statistical models for evaluation of primary and secondary outcomes, as well as defining covariates for adjusted analyses and methods for exploratory analyses. Application of this statistical analysis plan to the forthcoming POLAR-RCT trial will facilitate unbiased analyses of these important clinical data.

Original languageEnglish
Article number259
Number of pages10
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 27 Apr 2018


  • Cooling
  • Critical care
  • Hypothermia
  • Outcome
  • Randomised controlled trials
  • Traumatic brain injury

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