Advanced Diagnostic Research

Diagnostic research in the past focused particularly on estimating the sensitivity and specificity of individual diagnostic tests. This online medical course will demonstrate that this so called ‘test research’ is not necessarily the same as diagnostic research. Furthermore, we will widen the horizon by proposing modern methods of diagnostic research and data analysis in which a patient’s test result can and should be considered in the context of other patient characteristics or test results. These methods enable 1. direct estimation of individual probabilities of disease presence based on all diagnostic information and 2. evaluation of the extent to which a particular diagnostic test has true added value in the clinical context. Also, conventional and advanced methods for systematic reviews of diagnostic tests will be presented.

Learning Objectives

At the end of this course, you'll should be able to:

  • Describe the principles and design of primary diagnostic studies
  • Describe the advantages and disadvantages of different approaches in primary diagnostic studies
  • Describe the validity aspects of primary diagnostic studies
  • Describe the methods for data collection in the different study designs of primary diagnostic studies
  • Explain the differences between different design and analytical approaches in primary diagnostic studies
  • Name the different measures of diagnostic value or accuracy that can be calculated from primary diagnostic studies
  • Explain and use modern design and analytical approaches instead of the classical approach in primary diagnostic studies
  • Describe the clinical utility and health technology assessment of diagnostic impact studies
  • Choose an appropriate study design and analytical approach to be used in a specific situation or to answer a specific study question in both primary diagnostic studies


As this is a university course, it is covered by academic accreditation. Upon passing the final exam, you will receive a recognized certificate from Utrecht University and the UMC Utrecht.           

Course Deadlines

Week 0
Sunday before start date - introduce yourself

Week 1
Sunday – complete Learning Unit 1

Week 2
Friday – complete Learning Units 2 and 3

Week 3
Friday – complete Learning Unit 4

Week 4
Monday – complete Learning Unit 5
Monday – submit Final Assignment

Completing all required assignments and meeting the deadlines are requirements to take the final exam.


This course includes a multiple-choice exam, which is the only part of the course that is not online. If you are able and willing to take the exam in Utrecht, the Netherlands, we are available to proctor the exam for you without any costs. If you have to take the exam from a different location, you need a proctor. This proctor may ask you to pay for their expenses. Please read more about proctoring on our specific webpage.

The exam will take place on Tuesday, April 23, 2019, from 14.00-16.30 at AZU – CLZ-1 MBU in Utrecht. The re-exam will take place on Monday May 20, from 14.00-16.30 CET at HvdB 2.03 in Utrecht. Taking the exam is not compulsory. However, if you want to receive the Course Certificate and the credits, it is obligatory to take the exam. You are allowed to redo the exam once.

It might be that, due to a force majeure situation, you cannot be present during the first exam moment. You must then, preferably prior to the first exam option, ask the academic counsellor for permission to be absent. Please note that the academic counsellor can ask for some form of proof of your absence (e.g. in case of illness) to establish if you are applicable for authorized absence. Jaco de Fockert-Koefoed, MSc is the academic counsellor you need to turn to

In short, as of now, it is no longer possible to skip the first exam option and -automatically- enroll in the second (re-sit) exam. Unauthorized absence during the first exam period results in no longer being able to finish the course that college year.



Software program R. Available for free.

Course staff


Pick a date for this course:
(Enrollment deadline: 18 November 2019 - 23:59 CET)
156 days left.

Quick overview

  • 1 Apr 2019 – 21 Apr 2019
  • 3 weeks
  • 14 hrs/wk
  • Academic Certificate
  • 1.5 EC
  • Online learning with guidance and support
  • English
  • Weblectures, individual assignments, group assignments
  • Desktop, Laptop, Smartphone, Tablet
  • 785

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