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BMC Med Res Methodol. 2008 Jul 21;8:48. doi: 10.1186/1471-2288-8-48.

Advantages of the nested case-control design in diagnostic research.

Author information

1
Julius Center for Health Sciences and Primary Care, University Medical Center, Utrecht, The Netherlands. cornelib@chw.edu.au

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Despite its benefits, it is uncommon to apply the nested case-control design in diagnostic research. We aim to show advantages of this design for diagnostic accuracy studies.

METHODS:

We used data from a full cross-sectional diagnostic study comprising a cohort of 1295 consecutive patients who were selected on their suspicion of having deep vein thrombosis (DVT). We draw nested case-control samples from the full study population with case:control ratios of 1:1, 1:2, 1:3 and 1:4 (per ratio 100 samples were taken). We calculated diagnostic accuracy estimates for two tests that are used to detect DVT in clinical practice.

RESULTS:

Estimates of diagnostic accuracy in the nested case-control samples were very similar to those in the full study population. For example, for each case:control ratio, the positive predictive value of the D-dimer test was 0.30 in the full study population and 0.30 in the nested case-control samples (median of the 100 samples). As expected, variability of the estimates decreased with increasing sample size.

CONCLUSION:

Our findings support the view that the nested case-control study is a valid and efficient design for diagnostic studies and should also be (re)appraised in current guidelines on diagnostic accuracy research.

PMID:
18644127
PMCID:
PMC2500041
DOI:
10.1186/1471-2288-8-48
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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