A hybrid model for combining case-control and cohort studies in systematic reviews of diagnostic tests

J R Stat Soc Ser C Appl Stat. 2015 Apr 1;64(3):469-489. doi: 10.1111/rssc.12087.


Systematic reviews of diagnostic tests often involve a mixture of case-control and cohort studies. The standard methods for evaluating diagnostic accuracy only focus on sensitivity and specificity and ignore the information on disease prevalence contained in cohort studies. Consequently, such methods cannot provide estimates of measures related to disease prevalence, such as population averaged or overall positive and negative predictive values, which reflect the clinical utility of a diagnostic test. In this paper, we propose a hybrid approach that jointly models the disease prevalence along with the diagnostic test sensitivity and specificity in cohort studies, and the sensitivity and specificity in case-control studies. In order to overcome the potential computational difficulties in the standard full likelihood inference of the proposed hybrid model, we propose an alternative inference procedure based on the composite likelihood. Such composite likelihood based inference does not suffer computational problems and maintains high relative efficiency. In addition, it is more robust to model mis-specifications compared to the standard full likelihood inference. We apply our approach to a review of the performance of contemporary diagnostic imaging modalities for detecting metastases in patients with melanoma.

Keywords: Composite likelihood; Diagnostic accuracy study; Independence likelihood; Meta-analysis; Pseudolikelihood; Systematic review.