Network meta-analysis of diagnostic test accuracy studies identifies and ranks the optimal diagnostic tests and thresholds for health care policy and decision-making
journal contributionposted on 09.04.2018, 10:19 by Rhiannon Owen, Nicola Cooper, T Quinn, R Lees, Alex Sutton
Objectives: Network meta-analyses (NMA) have extensively been used to compare the effectiveness of multiple interventions for health care policy and decision-making. However, methods for evaluating the performance of multiple diagnostic tests are less established. In a decision-making context, we are often interested in comparing and ranking the performance of multiple diagnostic tests, at varying levels of test thresholds, in one simultaneous analysis. Study Design and Setting: Motivated by an example of cognitive impairment diagnosis following stroke, we synthesized data from 13 studies assessing the efficiency of two diagnostic tests: Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) and Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA), at two test thresholds: MMSE <25/30 and <27/30, and MoCA <22/30 and <26/30. Using Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) methods, we fitted a bivariate network meta-analysis model incorporating constraints on increasing test threshold, and accounting for the correlations between multiple test accuracy measures from the same study. Results: We developed and successfully fitted a model comparing multiple tests/threshold combinations while imposing threshold constraints. Using this model, we found that MoCA at threshold <26/30 appeared to have the best true positive rate, whereas MMSE at threshold <25/30 appeared to have the best true negative rate. Conclusion: The combined analysis of multiple tests at multiple thresholds allowed for more rigorous comparisons between competing diagnostics tests for decision making.