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BACKGROUND:Interest in the usefulness of machine learning (ML) methods for outcomes prediction has continued to increase in recent years. However, the advantage of advanced ML model over traditional logistic regression (LR) remains controversial. We performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of studies comparing the discrimination accuracy between ML models versus LR in predicting operative mortality following cardiac surgery. METHODS:The present systematic review followed the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis statement. Discrimination ability was assessed using the C-statistic. Pooled C-statistics and its 95% credibility interval for ML models and LR were obtained were obtained using a Bayesian framework. Pooled estimates for ML models and LR were compared to inform on difference between the 2 approaches. RESULTS:We identified 459 published citations of which 15 studies met inclusion criteria and were used for the quantitative and qualitative analysis. When the best ML model from individual study was used, meta-analytic estimates showed that ML were associated with a significantly higher C-statistic (ML, 0.88; 95% credibility interval, 0.83-0.93 vs LR, 0.81; 95% credibility interval, 0.77-0.85; P = .03). When individual ML algorithms were instead selected, we found a nonsignificant trend toward better prediction with each of ML algorithms. We found no evidence of publication bias (P = .70). CONCLUSIONS:The present findings suggest that when compared with LR, ML models provide better discrimination in mortality prediction after cardiac surgery. However, the magnitude and clinical influence of such an improvement remains uncertain.

Original publication




Journal article


The Journal of thoracic and cardiovascular surgery

Publication Date



Department of Translational Health Sciences, Bristol Heart Institute, University of Bristol, London, United Kingdom. Electronic address: