Systematic Reviews of Diagnostic Studies

The number of primary studies evaluating diagnostic tests is rising. Critically summarizing such studies in a systematic review is beneficial for health care professionals seeking the best evidence about the use of diagnostic tests. Reviews of diagnostic studies are more challenging because of more variation in questions & designs, specific sources of bias & variation, and the need to use more complex statistical approaches to meta-analysis. Several advances have recently been made in the methods to perform such reviews.

Dr. J.B. (Hans) Reitsma
Associate Professor, UMC Utrecht / Utrecht University
  • 3 weeks - 14 hrs / wk
  • Academic Certificate
  • 1.5 EC
  • Online
  • English
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Inschrijving sluit op 24/02/2025 225 dagen tot einde inschrijving
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Course description

In this course we discuss and practice the methods to assess the methodological quality of primary diagnostic test accuracy studies (QUADAS-2 instrument), the statistical models to meta-analyze the paired measures of test accuracy (bivariate meta-regression model of sensitivity and specificity), and how to critically read and interpret the findings of systematic review of diagnostic studies. The course consists of plenary presentations, small-group discussions, and computer exercises using the statistical software package R.

Learning objectives

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

• Appreciate the diversity of test usage and study designs
• Understand potential risk of bias and concerns regarding applicability
• Understand the concept underlying approaches to meta-analysis
• Explore heterogeneity and compare test accuracy
• Create different types of analysis
• Summarize results and draw appropriate conclusions


This course includes an exam. The exams are, by default, online using online proctoring. If you wish to take the exam on-site in Utrecht, the Netherlands, this is possible as well.

Exam edition March 2024
The exam will take place on March 22th, 2024 from 14:15 – 17:15 CET. The re-examination will take place on May 17th, 2024 from 14:15 – 17:15 CET. Note: these times might be subject to change. The exact time and place will be announced as soon as possible in the learning environment and any changes announced there will overrule the information here.

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.

• MSc Epidemiology Postgraduate students 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 through

• All other participants should contact the MSc Epidemiology Office instead, through

In short, as of now, it is no longer possible to skip the first exam option and -automatically- enrol 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.


To enroll in this course, you need:

• A BSc degree in biomedical sciences, pharmaceutical sciences, medicine or veterinary medicine, or a comparable degree in medical education
• Access to the program R
• To have participated in the course Advanced Diagnostic Research
• Sufficient proficiency in English reading and writing

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