Adjusting for differential-verification bias in diagnostic-accuracy studies: a Bayesian approach

J.A.H. de Groot, N. Dendukuri, K.J.M. Janssen, J.B. Reitsma, P.M. Bossuyt, K.G.M. Moons

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


In studies of diagnostic accuracy, the performance of an index test is assessed by verifying its results against those of a reference standard. If verification of index-test results by the preferred reference standard can be performed only in a subset of subjects, an alternative reference test could be given to the remainder. The drawback of this so-called differential-verification design is that the second reference test is often of lesser quality, or defines the target condition in a different way. Incorrectly treating results of the 2 reference standards as equivalent will lead to differential-verification bias. The Bayesian methods presented in this paper use a single model to (1) acknowledge the different nature of the 2 reference standards and (2) make simultaneous inferences about the population prevalence and the sensitivity, specificity, and predictive values of the index test with respect to both reference tests, in relation to latent disease status. We illustrate this approach using data from a study on the accuracy of the elbow extension test for diagnosis of elbow fractures in patients with elbow injury, using either radiography or follow-up as reference standards.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)234-241
Number of pages8
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • Bayes Theorem
  • Bias (Epidemiology)
  • Diagnostic Techniques and Procedures
  • Humans
  • Models, Statistical
  • Reference Standards
  • Sensitivity and Specificity


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