Statistical methodology: III. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves

Acad Emerg Med. 1997 Aug;4(8):818-26. doi: 10.1111/j.1553-2712.1997.tb03793.x.


Measures including sensitivity, specificity, and positive and negative predictive values have been traditionally used to assess a diagnostic test's ability to detect the presence or absence of disease. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve analysis allows visual evaluation of the trade-offs between sensitivity and specificity associated with different values of the test result, or different "cutpoints" for defining a positive result. The purpose of this article is to define, construct, and interpret a ROC curve using a hypothetical example applicable to emergency medicine practice.

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Appendicitis / diagnosis
  • Body Temperature
  • Diagnosis*
  • Emergencies
  • Humans
  • Leukocyte Count
  • ROC Curve*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity