The spectrum effect in tests for risk prediction, screening, and diagnosis

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Abstract

The spectrum effect describes the variation between settings in performance of tests used to predict, screen for, and diagnose disease. In particular, the predictive use of a test may be different when it is applied in a general population rather than in the study sample in which it was first developed. This article discusses the impact of the spectrum effect on measures of test performance, and its implications for the development, evaluation, application, and implementation of such tests.

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