The methodological quality of diagnostic test accuracy studies for musculoskeletal conditions can be improved

Nicholas Henschke*, Julia Keuerleber, Manuela Ferreira, Christopher G. Maher, Arianne P. Verhagen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: To provide an overview of reporting and methodological quality in diagnostic test accuracy (DTA) studies in the musculoskeletal field and evaluate the use of the QUality Assessment of Diagnostic Accuracy Studies (QUADAS) checklist. Study Design and Setting: A literature review identified all systematic reviews that evaluated the accuracy of clinical tests to diagnose musculoskeletal conditions and used the QUADAS checklist. Two authors screened all identified reviews and extracted data on the target condition, index tests, reference standard, included studies, and QUADAS items. A descriptive analysis of the QUADAS checklist was performed, along with Rasch analysis to examine the construct validity and internal reliability. Results: A total of 19 systematic reviews were included, which provided data on individual items of the QUADAS checklist for 392 DTA studies. In the musculoskeletal field, uninterpretable or intermediate test results are commonly not reported, with 175 (45%) studies scoring "no" to this item. The proportion of studies fulfilling certain items varied from 22% (item 11) to 91% (item 3). The interrater reliability of the QUADAS checklist was good and Rasch analysis showed excellent construct validity and internal consistency. Conclusion: This overview identified areas where the reporting and performance of diagnostic studies within the musculoskeletal field can be improved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)416-424
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Clinical Epidemiology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Diagnosis
  • Musculoskeletal
  • Rasch analysis
  • Study quality
  • Systematic review


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