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Seminar Series Report: Systematic reviews of diagnostic test accuracy in infectious diseases

Thursday, 24 Nov 2016

LSTM’s Seminar Series continued this week with a talk from Dr Mariska Leeflang from the Department of Clinical Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Bioinformatics at the University of Amsterdam entitled: Systematic reviews of diagnostic test accuracy in infectious diseases. 

Now working at the Amsterdam Medical University in the Department of Epidemiology, Statistics and Informatics alongside 40 other methodologists, Dr Leeflang is a specialist in evidence synthesis of diagnostic test reviews. She initially trained as a vet, specializing in large animals becoming interested in veterinary public health and its interaction with human public health. Her PhD was in systematic reviews of diagnostic test accuracy, which she was awarded in 2008. She went on to be instrumental in the setting up of the Cochrane Diagnostic Test Accuracy Working Group, and has made important contributions to the development of meta-analysis methods. As well as working for the Royal Tropical Institute in Amsterdam, where she set up an in-house training in test evaluation research, Dr Leeflang is co-convenor of the Cochrane Screening and Diagnostic Tests Methods Group.

She provided a concise, clear overview of many of the methodological aspects of diagnostic test accuracy reviews at every step of the process. Dr Leeflang emphasized the need for clarity in the clinical pathway and understanding how the test is used in decision making, and what difference the test will make to decision making and patient outcomes is important to consider at the outset. Dr Leeflang has been a major contributor to the development of Cochrane methods in this area, providing training, and developing the thinking around the interpretation and use of diagnostic test accuracy synthesis.

Hosted by the Centre for Evidence Synthesis in Global Health, Dr Leeflang followed the session with workshop to help people develop systematic review priorities and draft clinical pathways. Paul Garner and Emily Adams jointly organised this event, and hope to see LSTM staff contribute more to the growing portfolio of Cochrane diagnostic test accuracy reviews in neglected tropical diseases, vector-borne infections, and TB/HIV.

A recording of the seminar can be found here: