Diagnostic test accuracy: methods for systematic review and meta-analysis

Int J Evid Based Healthc. 2015 Sep;13(3):154-62. doi: 10.1097/XEB.0000000000000061.


Systematic reviews are carried out to provide an answer to a clinical question based on all available evidence (published and unpublished), to critically appraise the quality of studies, and account for and explain variations between the results of studies. The Joanna Briggs Institute specializes in providing methodological guidance for the conduct of systematic reviews and has developed methods and guidance for reviewers conducting systematic reviews of studies of diagnostic test accuracy. Diagnostic tests are used to identify the presence or absence of a condition for the purpose of developing an appropriate treatment plan. Owing to demands for improvements in speed, cost, ease of performance, patient safety, and accuracy, new diagnostic tests are continuously developed, and there are often several tests available for the diagnosis of a particular condition. In order to provide the evidence necessary for clinicians and other healthcare professionals to make informed decisions regarding the optimum test to use, primary studies need to be carried out on the accuracy of diagnostic tests and the results of these studies synthesized through systematic review. The Joanna Briggs Institute and its international collaboration have updated, revised, and developed new guidance for systematic reviews, including systematic reviews of diagnostic test accuracy. This methodological article summarizes that guidance and provides detailed advice on the effective conduct of systematic reviews of diagnostic test accuracy.

MeSH terms

  • Bias
  • Diagnostic Techniques and Procedures* / standards
  • Empirical Research
  • Evidence-Based Medicine* / organization & administration
  • Evidence-Based Medicine* / standards
  • False Negative Reactions
  • False Positive Reactions
  • Humans
  • Meta-Analysis as Topic*
  • ROC Curve
  • Research Design* / standards
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Systematic Reviews as Topic*
  • Technology Assessment, Biomedical