What Makes a Test Effective?

Stewart, Scott H.; Connors, Gerard J.
March 2004
Alcohol Research & Health;2004/2005, Vol. 28 Issue 1, p5
Academic Journal
Screening tests are useful in a variety of settings and contexts, but not all disorders are amenable to screening. Alcohol use disorders (AUDs) and other drinking problems are a major cause of morbidity and mortality and are prevalent in the population; effective treatments are available, and patient outcome can be improved by early detection and intervention. Therefore, the use of screening tests to identify people with or at risk for AUDs can be beneficial. The characteristics of screening tests that influence their usefulness in clinical settings include their validity, sensitivity, and specificity. Appropriately conducted screening tests can help clinicians better predict the probability that individual patients do or do not have a given disorder. This is accomplished by qualitatively or quantitatively estimating variables such as positive and negative predictive values of screening in a population, and by determining the probability that a given person has a certain disorder based on his or her screening results. INSET: Receiver Operator Characteristic (ROC) Curves.


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