Generalized likelihood ratios for quantitative diagnostic test scores

Am J Emerg Med. 1997 Nov;15(7):694-9. doi: 10.1016/s0735-6757(97)90189-3.


The reduction of quantitative diagnostic test scores to the dichotomous case is a wasteful and unnecessary simplification in the era of high-speed computing. Physicians could make better use of the information embedded in quantitative test results if modern generalized curve estimation techniques were applied to the likelihood functions of Bayes' theorem. Hand calculations could be completely avoided and computed graphical summaries provided instead. Graphs showing posttest probability of disease as a function of pretest probability with confidence intervals (POD plots) would enhance acceptance of these techniques if they were immediately available at the computer terminal when test results were retrieved. Such constructs would also provide immediate feedback to physicians when a valueless test had been ordered.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Bayes Theorem
  • Clinical Laboratory Techniques / statistics & numerical data*
  • Computer Graphics
  • Computer Systems
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Electronic Data Processing
  • Feedback
  • Humans
  • Likelihood Functions*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Probability