Measuring diagnostic and predictive accuracy in disease management: an introduction to receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis

J Eval Clin Pract. 2006 Apr;12(2):132-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2753.2005.00598.x.


Diagnostic or predictive accuracy concerns are common in all phases of a disease management (DM) programme, and ultimately play an influential role in the assessment of programme effectiveness. Areas, such as the identification of diseased patients, predictive modelling of future health status and costs and risk stratification, are just a few of the domains in which assessment of accuracy is beneficial, if not critical. The most commonly used analytical model for this purpose is the standard 2 x 2 table method in which sensitivity and specificity are calculated. However, there are several limitations to this approach, including the reliance on a single defined criterion or cut-off for determining a true-positive result, use of non-standardized measurement instruments and sensitivity to outcome prevalence. This paper introduces the receiver operator characteristic (ROC) analysis as a more appropriate and useful technique for assessing diagnostic and predictive accuracy in DM. Its advantages include; testing accuracy across the entire range of scores and thereby not requiring a predetermined cut-off point, easily examined visual and statistical comparisons across tests or scores, and independence from outcome prevalence. Therefore the implementation of ROC as an evaluation tool should be strongly considered in the various phases of a DM programme.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Diagnostic Techniques and Procedures / standards*
  • Disease Management*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prevalence
  • Program Evaluation / methods*
  • ROC Curve*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity