Stages of diagnostic test evaluation

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 describes how diagnostic tests can be evaluated in different ways and what are the questions that these evaluations are answering. When considering undertaking a Cochrane DTA Review it is important to understand that diagnostic test accuracy is not the solution for all diagnostic questions. It is crucial to clarify what you want to know and how will estimates of sensitivity and specificity, or other accuracy estimates, answer your question.

After using this resource, you should be able to...
  • describe different ways by which a diagnostic test can be evaluated
  • judge whether the question you have can be answered with a diagnostic test accuracy (DTA) review

1.2 Stages of diagnostic test evaluation

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

Cite as: Leeflang MM, Davenport CF, Takwoingi Y, Deeks JJ. Staged evaluation. Lesson 1.2: Cochrane Collaboration DTA Online Learning Materials. The Cochrane Collaboration, September 2014. Videocast (33 slides, 20 minutes, sound, colour). Available at <>.

Session compiled and narrated by Mariska Leeflang 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.