6. Systematic Reviews and Meta-analysis of Diagnostic Test Accuracy Studies

Detailed course information (PDF)


Dr. Anne W.S. Rutjes, PhD
Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine (ISPM), University of Bern, Switzerland & Fondazione Università “Gabriele d’Annunzio”, University of Chieti – Pescara, Italy
Dr. Yemisi Takwoingi, PhD
Institute of Applied Health Research, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK


This course will focus on the systematic review process to identify, critically appraise and summarise data from diagnostic test accuracy (DTA) studies. DTA studies evaluate the performance of a diagnostic test, for example to gauge how good a test is at discriminating between diseased and non-diseased persons. A systematic review is a useful design to summarise all evidence on the clinical performance of a diagnostic test for a specific disease or condition.
This course starts with a basic introduction to what a DTA study is and what estimates such as sensitivity and specificity mean. Thereafter, the course participants are introduced to the steps involved in the conduct of a high quality systematic review. Friday afternoon and Saturday, we will focus on the planning, organisation and conduct of the statistical analyses (meta-analyses).
The target audience of the course are epidemiologists, statisticians and others who wish to conduct systematic reviews and meta-analyses of DTA studies. Participants should have a basic understanding of general statistical and epidemiological principles. Although exercises are done in STATA and RevMan, no prior experience with these packages is required.

Course objectives


  • Understand the different objectives and designs of DTA studies
  • Understand the basic elements of a thorough literature search for DTA studies
  • Understand potential risk of bias and concerns regarding applicability of DTA study results
  • Understand the concepts underlying different approaches to metaanalysis of DTA studies
  • Perform different types of meta-analyses of DTA studies (in RevMan and Stata)
  • Describe summary estimates and interpret results from meta-analyses appropriately

Course fees:

Academic fee: CHF 900
Industry fee: CHF 2’000
SSPH+ fee: only applicable for students of the SSPH+ PhD Program in Public Health