In evaluating the accuracy of diagnosis tests, it is common to apply two imperfect tests jointly or sequentially to a study population. In a recent meta-analysis of the accuracy of microsatellite instability testing (MSI) and traditional mutation analysis (MUT) in predicting germline mutations of the mismatch repair (MMR) genes, a Bayesian approach (Chen, Watson, and Parmigiani 2005) was proposed to handle missing data resulting from partial testing and the lack of a gold standard. In this paper, we demonstrate an improved estimation of the sensitivities and specificities of MSI and MUT by using a nonlinear mixed model and a Bayesian hierarchical model, both of which account for the heterogeneity across studies through study-specific random effects. The methods can be used to estimate the accuracy of two imperfect diagnostic tests in other meta-analyses when the prevalence of disease, the sensitivities and/or the specificities of diagnostic tests are heterogeneous among studies. Furthermore, simulation studies have demonstrated the importance of carefully selecting appropriate random effects on the estimation of diagnostic accuracy measurements in this scenario.


Statistical Models