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Research Focused on Diagnostic Tests

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Clinical Research Transformed


In the prevailing theoretical framework of diagnostic research (Chap. 13, above) the focus is, quite exclusively, on the properties of diagnostic ‘tests’ (incl. symptoms and clinical signs), properties such as their ‘sensitivity’ and ‘specificity’ for the illness at issue. In a study on these properties, the frequency behavior of the ‘test’ result is compared between a series of cases of the illness and one without the illness. In the here-advocated alternative theoretical framework for diagnostic research, the main focus is on the meaning of the diagnostic profile as a whole (Chap. 11), and the only property of note of a diagnostic test (or a set of these jointly) is the probability with which the testing would provide for a sufficiently conclusive post-test probability of the presence/absence of the illness at issue if invoked to supplement the inconclusive pre-test information on the case. Research on this ‘power’ of a (set of) diagnostic tests(s) – genuine, laboratory-based – is a simple-but-important extension of studies on diagnostic probability as a joint function of a set of diagnostic indicators. Diagnostic research relevant to screening addresses the probability of the test’s positive result and the probability of the illness conditional on this.

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Miettinen, O.S., Steurer, J., Hofman, A. (2019). Research Focused on Diagnostic Tests. In: Clinical Research Transformed. Springer, Cham.

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