Estimating the error rates of diagnostic tests

Biometrics. 1980 Mar;36(1):167-71.


It is often required to evaluate the accuracy of a new diagnostic test against a standard test with unknown error rates. If the two tests are applied simultaneously to the same individuals from two populations with different disease prevalences, then assuming conditional independence of the errors of the two tests, the error rates of both tests and the true prevalences in both populations can be estimated by a maximum likelihood procedure. Generalizations to several tests applied in several populations are also possible.

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Laboratory Techniques / standards*
  • Diagnostic Errors
  • Humans
  • Probability
  • Skin Tests
  • Tuberculosis, Pulmonary / diagnosis