Conducting systematic reviews of diagnostic studies: didactic guidelines

BMC Med Res Methodol. 2002 Jul 3;2:9. doi: 10.1186/1471-2288-2-9.


Background: Although guidelines for critical appraisal of diagnostic research and meta-analyses have already been published, these may be difficult to understand for clinical researchers or do not provide enough detailed information.

Methods: Development of guidelines based on a systematic review of the evidence in reports of systematic searches of the literature for diagnostic research, of methodological criteria to evaluate diagnostic research, of methods for statistical pooling of data on diagnostic accuracy, and of methods for exploring heterogeneity.

Results: Guidelines for conducting diagnostic systematic reviews are presented in a stepwise fashion and are followed by comments providing further information. Examples are given using the results of two systematic reviews on the accuracy of the urine dipstick in the diagnosis of urinary tract infections, and on the accuracy of the straight-leg-raising test in the diagnosis of intervertebral disc hernia.

MeSH terms

  • Diagnostic Techniques and Procedures / standards*
  • Guidelines as Topic*
  • Humans
  • Meta-Analysis as Topic*