Introduction to test accuracy


This lesson is part of an introductory series developed by Cochrane Screening & Diagnostic Test Methods Group to support authors in the production of DTA reviews. A full list of currently available or planned lessons is available here.

This lesson defines the term test accuracy and considers how estimation of test accuracy contributes to a comprehensive evaluation of medical tests. It explains how to assess test accuracy and derive the diagnostic 2x2 table. An introduction to numerical expression of test accuracy is provided. Finally, the lesson addresses the downstream consequences of test results.

After using this resource, you should be able to...
  • Define what is meant by test accuracy
  • Describe the basic primary study design for evaluating test accuracy
  • Compute sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value, and negative predictive value
  • Understand the relationship between summary measures of test accuracy and test errors

1.3 Introduction to test accuracy

Author information: 
Davenport, Clare; Takwoingi, Yemisi; Leeflang, Mariska; Deeks, Jon

Cite as: Davenport CF, Takwoingi Y, Leeflang MM, Deeks JJ. Introduction to test accuracy. Lesson 1.3: Cochrane Collaboration DTA Online Learning Materials. The Cochrane Collaboration, September 2014. Videocast (29 slides, 22 minutes, sound, colour). Available at <>.

Session compiled and narrated by Clare Davenport with technical support from Anne Walker and Paul Good, University of Birmingham. With grateful acknowledgement of the many members of the Cochrane DTA Reviews Working Group upon which the materials, in part, are based. Funded by the UK NIHR and the Cochrane Collaboration, with support from the University of Birmingham and the University of Amsterdam.