Handout for diagnostic testing

Steve Simon


I have been busy preparing a handout describing the basics of diagnostic testing (e.g., sensitivity and specificity), the medical issues associated with these tests (e.g., the difficulty in testing for a rare disease, the need to balance the costs of false positives and false negatives), and applications of the likelihood ratio. I also show how to use the likelihood ratio slide rule.

I’m hoping that this handout will be adopted by teachers and used for new medical students, because this is an important topic that is easily confused. I’ve set up a special page with links to the PDF of the handout as well as other resources. Some of the tables I used in the paper were laid out in a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet.

You can find an earlier version of this page on my old website.