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Biom J. 2009 Oct;51(5):837-50. doi: 10.1002/bimj.200800123.

Joint estimation of diagnostic accuracy measures for paired organs--application in ophthalmology.

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  • 1Department of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alta., T2N 1N4, Canada.


Diagnostic studies in ophthalmology frequently involve binocular data where pairs of eyes are evaluated, through some diagnostic procedure, for the presence of certain diseases or pathologies. The simplest approach of estimating measures of diagnostic accuracy, such as sensitivity and specificity, treats eyes as independent, consequently yielding incorrect estimates, especially of the standard errors. Approaches that account for the inter-eye correlation include regression methods using generalized estimating equations and likelihood techniques based on various correlated binomial models. The paper proposes a simple alternative statistical methodology of jointly estimating measures of diagnostic accuracy for binocular tests based on a flexible model for correlated binary data. Moments' estimation of model parameters is outlined and asymptotic inference is discussed. The resulting estimates are straightforward and easy to obtain, requiring no special statistical software but only elementary calculations. Results of simulations indicate that large-sample and bootstrap confidence intervals based on the estimates have relatively good coverage properties when the model is correctly specified. The computation of the estimates and their standard errors are illustrated with data from a study on diabetic retinopathy.

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