Publication date: Sep 19, 2023
When evaluating a diagnostic test, it is common that a gold standard may not be available. One example is the diagnosis of SARS-CoV-2 infection using saliva sampling or nasopharyngeal swabs. Without a gold standard, a pragmatic approach is to postulate a “reference standard,” defined as positive if either test is positive, or negative if both are negative. However, this pragmatic approach may overestimate sensitivities because subjects infected with SARS-CoV-2 may still have double-negative test results even when both tests exhibit perfect specificity. To address this limitation, we propose a Bayesian hierarchical model for simultaneously estimating sensitivity, specificity, and disease prevalence in the absence of a gold standard. The proposed model allows adjusting for study-level covariates. We evaluate the model performance using an example based on a recently published meta-analysis on the diagnosis of SARS-CoV-2 infection and extensive simulations. Compared with the pragmatic reference standard approach, we demonstrate that the proposed Bayesian method provides a more accurate evaluation of prevalence, specificity, and sensitivity in a meta-analytic framework.
|Covid||Bayesian hierarchical model|
|SARS-CoV-2 infection diagnosis|