The diagnostic odds ratio: a single indicator of test performance

J Clin Epidemiol. 2003 Nov;56(11):1129-35. doi: 10.1016/s0895-4356(03)00177-x.


Diagnostic testing can be used to discriminate subjects with a target disorder from subjects without it. Several indicators of diagnostic performance have been proposed, such as sensitivity and specificity. Using paired indicators can be a disadvantage in comparing the performance of competing tests, especially if one test does not outperform the other on both indicators. Here we propose the use of the odds ratio as a single indicator of diagnostic performance. The diagnostic odds ratio is closely linked to existing indicators, it facilitates formal meta-analysis of studies on diagnostic test performance, and it is derived from logistic models, which allow for the inclusion of additional variables to correct for heterogeneity. A disadvantage is the impossibility of weighing the true positive and false positive rate separately. In this article the application of the diagnostic odds ratio in test evaluation is illustrated.

MeSH terms

  • Diagnosis*
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Meta-Analysis as Topic
  • Odds Ratio*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Sensitivity and Specificity