Systematic Reviews of Diagnostic Studies

"Several advances have recently been made in the methods to perform systematic reviews."

The number of primary studies evaluating diagnostic tests is rising. Critically summarizing such studies in a systematic review is beneficial for health care professionals seeking the best evidence about the use of diagnostic tests. Reviews of diagnostic studies are more challenging because of more variation in questions & designs, specific sources of bias & variation, and the need to use more complex statistical approaches to meta-analysis.

Suitable for: 
In this course we expect participants to have a basic knowledge about the principles of diagnostic research. This includes the basic design of diagnostic accuracy, the various measures of test performance (e.g. sensitivity & specificity, predictive values, odds ratio, ROC curves). Furthermore, computer exercises will be done using the statistical software R, so an understanding of the basic commands in R is anticipated.
Start date(s): 
30 March 2020 (face-to-face) 27 January 2020 (online)
Time investment: 
Face-to-face: five full working days Online: 14 hours a week for three weeks
University Medical Center Utrecht
Faculty of Medicine
Fee: This fee is exempt from VAT
Face-to-face: € 830 Online: € 785
Extra information: 

The face-to-face course consists of plenary presentations, small-group discussions, and computer exercises using the statistical software package R.

The online course includes an exam, which is the only part of the course that is not online. At this moment, there is no new startdate and therefore no new exam moment known. We will communicate this as soon as possible. If you are able and willing to take the exam in Utrecht, the Netherlands, we are available to proctor the exam for you without any costs. If you have to take the exam from a different location, you need a proctor. This proctor may ask you to pay for their expenses. The exam is not compulsory. However, if you want to receive the Course Certificate and the credits, it is obligatory to take the exam. You are allowed to redo the exam once. 

In this course we discuss and practice the methods to assess the methodological quality of primary diagnostic test accuracy studies (QUADAS-2 instrument), the statistical models to meta-analyze the paired measures of test accuracy (bivariate meta-regression model of sensitivity and specificity), and how to critically read and interpret the findings of systematic review of diagnostic studies.

At the end of the course, students are able to:

  • Appreciate the diversity of test usage and study designs
  • Understand potential risk of bias and concerns regarding applicability
  • Understand the concept underlying approaches to meta-analysis
  • Explore heterogeneity and compare test accuracy
  • Create different types of analysis
  • Summarize results and draw appropriate conclusions


Please contact our Educational Office:
​088 75 69710