Saturday, August 19, 2023

The Importance of Prevalence in Assessing Diagnostic Test Utility

This letter to the editor highlights the importance of reporting disease prevalence when assessing the clinical utility of a diagnostic test. The negative predictive value of a test is highly dependent on disease prevalence in the population, whereas sensitivity and specificity are not. Here I advocate for a standardized approach where predictive values are calculated assuming a 50% disease prevalence to allow easier comparison between diagnostic tests. This commentary is an important reminder that predictive values cannot be interpreted in isolation, and prevalence data is key for understanding real-world clinical applications.

Heston TF. Standardizing predictive values in diagnostic imaging research [letter]. J Magn Reson Imaging. 2011;33(2):505.