Methods for systematic reviews of diagnostic test accuracy

Medical tests used in clinical practice should be safe and lead to improvements in health outcomes for patients. The best evidence comes from randomised-controlled trials (RCTs) comparing tests, including the effects of subsequent interventions on patients. However, such RCTs are rarely available. Therefore, healthcare organisations and policy makers rely on information from studies that assess diagnostic accuracy, i.e. how well a test gets the diagnosis right in people who have the target condition and people who do not have the condition.

It is essential that valid methods are used to produce high-quality evidence reviews that will be used to inform recommendations for patient care. This workshop, organised by the Cochrane Screening and Diagnostic Tests Methods Group, is designed for researchers, policy makers and other stakeholders who have a keen interest in understanding key issues in the design and conduct of systematic reviews of diagnostic test accuracy (DTA). The workshop combines our series of workshops usually run throughout the Cochrane Colloquium into a coherent and effective one-day training programme.

The workshop will be delivered through a mixture of interactive presentations, discussions and small group exercises. Using a variety of clinical examples, participants will learn of key challenges and best practice for conducting DTA reviews, and how to make sense of the evidence from such reviews. Specifically, the workshop is based on guidelines as formulated in the Cochrane Handbook for Diagnostic Test Accuracy Reviews. Participants will be introduced to the process of question formulation for a DTA review; the methodology for quality assessment; the principles of meta-analysis and recommended statistical methods; potential sources of heterogeneity and methods for assessing heterogeneity; comparisons of test accuracy; presenting and interpreting results; and drawing conclusions.

Refreshments (lunch and two coffee breaks) will be provided.


Tuesday 12 September 2017 - 09:00 to 17:00



Park Inn Hotel, Cape Town

Other contributors:

Macaskill P1, Davenport C1, Hyde C1, Scholten R2
1 ,
2 Cochrane Netherlands, The Netherlands

Target audience: 

Review authors, policymakers and other stakeholders interested in diagnostic test accuracy reviews.

Type of session: 

Training workshop involving interactive presentations, discussions and small group exercises. The level is basic but knowledge of meta-analysis and meta-regression for intervention reviews will be an advantage.


To provide individuals interested in evidence-based diagnosis with an overview of concepts underpinning systematic reviews of diagnostic accuracy.