Background: To improve the accuracy and completeness of reporting of studies of diagnostic accuracy in order to allow readers to assess the potential for bias in a study and to evaluate the generalizability of its results.
Methods: The Standards for Reporting of Diagnostic Accuracy (STARD) steering committee searched the literature to identify publications on the appropriate conduct and reporting of diagnostic studies and extracted potential items into an extensive list. Researchers, editors and members of professional organizations shortened this list during a 2-day consensus meeting with the goal of developing a checklist and a generic flow diagram for studies of diagnostic accuracy.
Results: The search for published guidelines regarding diagnostic research yielded 33 previously published checklists, from which we extracted a list of 75 potential items. At the consensus meeting, participants shortened the list to 25 items, using evidence on bias whenever available. A prototypical flow diagram provides information about the method of patient recruitment, the order of test execution and the numbers of patients undergoing the test under evaluation, the reference standard or both.
Conclusions: Evaluation of research depends on complete and accurate reporting. If medical journals adopt the checklist and the flow diagram, the quality of reporting of studies of diagnostic accuracy should improve to the advantage of the clinicians, researchers, reviewers, journals and the public.