Statistics in Medicine

The partial testing design: a less costly way to test equivalence for sensitivity and specificity

Journal Article

  • Author(s): Stuart G. Baker, Robert J. Connor, Larry G. Kessler
  • Article first published online: 21 Dec 1998
  • DOI: 10.1002/(SICI)1097-0258(19981015)17:19<2219::AID-SIM919>3.0.CO;2-1
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We propose a new, less costly, design to test the equivalence of digital versus analogue mammography in terms of sensitivity and specificity. Because breast cancer is a rare event among asymptomatic women, the sample size for testing equivalence of sensitivity is larger than that for testing equivalence of specificity. Hence calculations of sample size are based on sensitivity. With the proposed design it is possible to achieve the same power as a completely paired design by increasing the number of less costly analogue mammograms and not giving the more expensive digital mammograms to some randomly selected subjects who are negative on the analogue mammogram. The key idea is that subjects who are negative on the analogue mammogram are unlikely to have cancer and hence contribute less information for estimating sensitivity than subjects who are positive on the analogue mammogram. To ascertain disease state among subjects not biopsied, we propose another analogue mammogram at a later time determined by a natural history model. The design differs from a double sampling design because it compares two imperfect tests instead of combining information from a perfect and imperfect test. © 1998 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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