Meta-analysis of diagnostic test accuracy studies differs from the usual meta-analysis of therapeutic/interventional studies in that, it is required to simultaneously analyze a pair of two outcome measures such as sensitivity and specificity, instead of a single outcome. Since sensitivity and specificity are generally inversely correlated and could be affected by a threshold effect, more sophisticated statistical methods are required for the meta-analysis of diagnostic test accuracy. Hierarchical models including the bivariate model and the hierarchical summary receiver operating characteristic model are increasingly being accepted as standard methods for meta-analysis of diagnostic test accuracy studies. We provide a conceptual review of statistical methods currently used and recommended for meta-analysis of diagnostic test accuracy studies. This article could serve as a methodological reference for those who perform systematic review and meta-analysis of diagnostic test accuracy studies.
Keywords: Diagnostic test accuracy; Meta-analysis; Systematic review.