Volume 15
Number 5
Dec 2011
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OM Dekkers

Receiver Operating Characteristic (ROC) curves are used in medical research as a graphical display for the relationship between sensitivity and specificity for a continuous test variable. In a ROC curve the sensitivity is plotted against 1-specificity for every cut-off point of the diagnostic variable. Although often shown as an overall measure of test performance, the ROC curve has no direct clinical interpretation. To be applicable for clinical practice, a cut-off value should be chosen, balancing sensitivity, specificity, the sever- ity of the disease under study, availability of treatments, as well as consequences from false positivity and false negativity in terms of costs, psychological impact and effect on health outcomes.

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