Journal of General Internal Medicine

, Volume 1, Issue 3, pp 177–182 | Cite as

To test or not to test — To treat or not to treat

The decision-threshold approach to patient management
  • Stephen A. Eraker
  • Louis R. Eeckhoudt
  • Roland J. M. Vanbutsele
  • Thérèse C. Lebrun
  • Jean-Claude L. Sailly


The inability to consider explicitly factors that should enter into clinical judgment compromises physician efforts to make cost-effective decisions regarding diagnostic testing and treatment. The authors describe the decision-threshold approach, a decision-analysis strategy that helps physicians identify an optimal test-treatment decision based upon the prior probability of disease, the characteristics of the test (sensitivity, specificity, risk), and the benefits/costs of treatment. They also present a microcomputer graphics program that makes the decision-threshold approach readily available to physicians.

Key words

decision-threshold analysis diagnostic testing treatment decisions 


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Copyright information

© Society for Research and Education in Primary Care Internal Medicine 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stephen A. Eraker
    • 1
  • Louis R. Eeckhoudt
  • Roland J. M. Vanbutsele
  • Thérèse C. Lebrun
  • Jean-Claude L. Sailly
  1. 1.Department of Internal MedicineVA Medical CenterSalt Lake City

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