The number of primary studies evaluating diagnostic tests is rising. Critically summarizing such studies in a systematic review is beneficial for health care professionals seeking the best evidence about the use of diagnostic tests. Reviews of diagnostic studies are more challenging because of more variation in questions & designs, specific sources of bias & variation, and the need to use more complex statistical approaches to meta-analysis. Several advances have recently been made in the methods to perform such reviews. In this course we discuss and practice the methods to assess the methodological quality of primary diagnostic test accuracy studies (QUADAS-2 instrument), the statistical models to meta-analyze the paired measures of test accuracy (bivariate meta-regression model of sensitivity and specificity), and how to critically read and interpret the findings of systematic review of diagnostic studies. The course consists of plenary presentations, small-group discussions, and computer exercises using the statistical software package R.
At the end of the course, you'll should be able to:
- Appreciate the diversity of test usage and study designs
- Understand potential risk of bias and concerns regarding applicability
- Understand the concept underlying approaches to meta-analysis
- Explore heterogeneity
- Compare test accuracy
- Create different types of analysis (in RevMan and Stata)
- Summarise results and draw appropriate conclusions
Rob J.P.M. Scholten is senior researcher at the Julius Center for Health Sciences and Primary Care. Since 2001, he is the director of The Dutch Cochrane Centre which is hosted by the Julius Center. Rob’s research focuses on three main areas: Developing and refining methods for systematic reviews and meta-analysis; selective publication and selective outcome reporting; and methods to improve the interpretation and presentation of systematic review results.