Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Diagnostic Test Accuracy

Version 2.0, 2022

The Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Diagnostic Test Accuracy is the official guide that describes in detail the process of preparing and maintaining systematic reviews of test accuracy for Cochrane. The Handbook has been produced by the Cochrane Screening and Diagnostic Test Methods Group. It is a step-by-step guide for those conducting systematic reviews of test accuracy and a reference for more experienced authors.

The Handbook is applicable to all systematic reviews of test accuracy though is specifically relevant to Cochrane Reviews. Part 1 covers information specific to Cochrane Reviews of diagnostic test accuracy. Part 2 introduces test accuracy studies and discusses when it might be appropriate to conduct them. Part 3 covers the methods used in systematic reviews of test accuracy and how to present the findings, including collecting data, assessing risk of bias in the included studies, and undertaking meta-analysis. 

Chapters are available below for personal use via a Cochrane Account (don't have an account? Set one up for free here). 

Part 1: About Cochrane Reviews of diagnostic test accuracy

  1. Introduction
  2. Planning a Cochrane Review of diagnostic test accuracy 
    1.S1: Supplementary material: Reporting template for Cochrane Protocols of diagnostic test accuracy

Part 2: Introducing test accuracy

  1. Evaluating diagnostic tests
  2. Understanding the designs of test accuracy studies
  3. Understanding test accuracy statistics

Part 3: Methods and presentation of systematic reviews of test accuracy

  1. Defining the review question
  2. Searching for and selecting studies
  3. Collecting data
  4. Assessing risk of bias and applicability
    8.S1: Supplementary material: Example study flow diagrams 
  5. Understanding meta-analysis
  6. Undertaking meta-analysis
    10. S1: Supplementary material: Code for undertaking meta-analysis
    10. S2: Supplementary material: Chapter datasets and code files
  7. Presenting findings
  8. Drawing conclusions
  9. Writing a plain language summary  

Important notes

  • A book version (first edition) of this Handbook, to be published by Wiley in 2022/2023, will comprise chapters 1–13. The online version will include chapters 1–13 with supplements.
  • Chapters are freely available for personal use only via a Cochrane Account (don't have an account? Set one up here). These chapters are not for general distribution and all content remains the copyright of Cochrane.
  • These drafts will undergo further work. Further drafts may be posted here before finalization.
  • Please cite the material as set out at the beginning of each chapter, including the exact date of the version.

Editorial team

Jon Deeks (Senior Scientific Editor)
Patrick Bossuyt (Senior Scientific Editor)
Mariska Leeflang (Associate Scientific Editor)
Yemisi Takwoingi (Associate Scientific Editor)
Ella Flemyng (Managing Editor)

Previous versions

Archived copies of Handbook are available:

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