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Evaluating diagnostic tests

Neal G Mahutte, MD
Antoni J Duleba, MD
Section Editor
Joann G Elmore, MD, MPH
Deputy Editor
Carrie Armsby, MD, MPH


The introduction of new diagnostic tests that claim to improve screening or provide definitive diagnosis is a major dilemma for all clinicians. The decision to embrace or reject these tests is often made individually with incomplete information and without thoughtful reflection.

In this topic review we will outline a simple seven-step process that can be used to evaluate the utility of any diagnostic test:

Can the test be reliably performed?

Was the test evaluated on an appropriate population?

Was an appropriate gold standard used?

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Literature review current through: Dec 2017. | This topic last updated: Mar 23, 2017.
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