Classification accuracy is the ability of a marker or diagnostic test to discriminate between two groups of individuals, cases and controls, and is commonly summarized using the receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve. In studies of classification accuracy, there are often covariates that should be incorporated into the ROC analysis. We describe three different ways of using covariate informa- tion. For factors that affect marker observations among controls, we present a method for covariate adjustment. For factors that affect discrimination (ie the ROC curve), we describe methods for mod- elling the ROC curve as a function of covariates. Finally, for factors that contribute to discrimination, we propose combining the marker and covariate information, and ask how much discriminatory accu- racy improves with the addition of the marker to the covariates (incremental value). These methods follow naturally when representing the ROC curve as a summary of the distribution of case marker observations, standardized with respect to the control distribution.
Janes, Holly; Longton, Gary M.; and Pepe, Margaret, "Accommodating Covariates in ROC Analysis" (January 2008). UW Biostatistics Working Paper Series. Working Paper 322.