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Bayesian Methods for Medical Test Accuracy

Author(s): Lyle D. Broemeling

Journal: Diagnostics
ISSN 2075-4418

Volume: 1;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 1;
Date: 2011;
Original page

Keywords: Bayesian inference | posterior distribution | prior distribution | ROC curve | verification bias | tests without a gold standard

Bayesian methods for medical test accuracy are presented, beginning with the basic measures for tests with binary scores: true positive fraction, false positive fraction, positive predictive values, and negative predictive value. The Bayesian approach is taken because of its efficient use of prior information, and the analysis is executed with a Bayesian software package WinBUGS®. The ROC (receiver operating characteristic) curve gives the intrinsic accuracy of medical tests that have ordinal or continuous scores, and the Bayesian approach is illustrated with many examples from cancer and other diseases. Medical tests include X-ray, mammography, ultrasound, computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging, nuclear medicine and tests based on biomarkers, such as blood glucose values for diabetes. The presentation continues with more specialized methods suitable for measuring the accuracies of clinical studies that have verification bias, and medical tests without a gold standard. Lastly, the review is concluded with Bayesian methods for measuring the accuracy of the combination of two or more tests.
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