Diagnostic sensitivity bias -- an epidemiologic explanation for an apparent brain tumor excess

J Occup Med. 1981 Oct;23(10):690-4. doi: 10.1097/00043764-198110000-00012.


Preliminary data showing over-representation of the Eastman Kodak Company (Rochester) on death certificates of brain tumor patients, and higher risk for older workers when compared to the general population, led to a case-control epidemiologic study. Chemical exposure histories of 56 workers with brain tumors were compared with those of other Kodak employees. No differences were found in exposure to a variety of chemicals. In addition, employees with brain tumors were compared to other upstate New York brain tumor patients; there was no difference in histology. However, the Kodak employees had diagnoses more frequently confirmed by histologic examination and more thorough diagnostic studies. Thus, the apparent initial excess of diagnosed tumors may have resulted from a "diagnostic sensitivity bias" arising from more complete medical evaluation of Kodak employees.

MeSH terms

  • Brain Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Brain Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Brain Neoplasms / mortality
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • New York
  • Occupational Diseases / diagnosis
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Occupational Diseases / mortality
  • Retrospective Studies