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PurposeTo quantify potential heterogeneity of treatment effect (HTE), of early sedation with dexmedetomidine (DEX) compared with usual care, and identify patients who have a high probability of lower or higher 90-day mortality according to age, and other identified clusters.MethodsBayesian analysis of 3904 critically ill adult patients expected to receive invasive ventilation > 24 h and enrolled in a multinational randomized controlled trial comparing early DEX with usual care sedation.ResultsHTE was assessed according to age and clusters (based on 12 baseline characteristics) using a Bayesian hierarchical models. DEX was associated with lower 90-day mortality compared to usual care in patients > 65 years (odds ratio [OR], 0.83 [95% credible interval [CrI] 0.68-1.00], with 97.7% probability of reduced mortality across broad categories of illness severity. Conversely, the probability of increased mortality in patients ≤ 65 years was 98.5% (OR 1.26 [95% CrI 1.02-1.56]. Two clusters were identified: cluster 1 (976 patients) mostly operative, and cluster 2 (2346 patients), predominantly non-operative. There was a greater probability of benefit with DEX in cluster 1 (OR 0.86 [95% CrI 0.65-1.14]) across broad categories of age, with 86.4% probability that DEX is more beneficial in cluster 1 than cluster 2.ConclusionIn critically ill mechanically ventilated patients, early sedation with dexmedetomidine exhibited a high probability of reduced 90-day mortality in older patients regardless of operative or non-operative cluster status. Conversely, a high probability of increased 90-day mortality was observed in younger patients of non-operative status. Further studies are needed to confirm these findings.

Original publication





Intensive care medicine

Publication Date





455 - 466


Monash Health School of Clinical Sciences, Monash University, Clayton, VIC, 3186, Australia.


SPICE III Study Investigators, Humans, Critical Illness, Dexmedetomidine, Hypnotics and Sedatives, Respiration, Artificial, Bayes Theorem, Adult, Aged, Intensive Care Units