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Stat Med. 2015 Dec 20;34(29):3831-41. doi: 10.1002/sim.6583. Epub 2015 Jul 14.

Nonparametric meta-analysis for diagnostic accuracy studies.

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Department of Medical Statistics, University Medical Center Göttingen, Humboldtallee 32, 37073, Göttingen, Germany.
Institute for Biometry and Epidemiology, German Diabetes Center, Leibniz Institute for Diabetes Research at Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf, Auf'm Hennekamp 65, 40225, Düsseldorf, Germany.


Summarizing the information of many studies using a meta-analysis becomes more and more important, also in the field of diagnostic studies. The special challenge in meta-analysis of diagnostic accuracy studies is that in general sensitivity and specificity are co-primary endpoints. Across the studies both endpoints are correlated, and this correlation has to be considered in the analysis. The standard approach for such a meta-analysis is the bivariate logistic random effects model. An alternative approach is to use marginal beta-binomial distributions for the true positives and the true negatives, linked by copula distributions. In this article, we propose a new, nonparametric approach of analysis, which has greater flexibility with respect to the correlation structure, and always converges. In a simulation study, it becomes apparent that the empirical coverage of all three approaches is in general below the nominal level. Regarding bias, empirical coverage, and mean squared error the nonparametric model is often superior to the standard model, and comparable with the copula model. The three approaches are also applied to two example meta-analyses.


diagnostic accuracy; meta-analysis; nonparametric; sensitivity; specificity

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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