The aim of this document is to provide authors, Cochrane Review Groups (CRGs) and other Cochrane Entities with answers to some frequently asked questions about systematic reviews of diagnostic test accuracy and the Cochrane Collaboration.
If you have any more questions or suggestions for questions for this page send an email with 'FAQ' in the subject line to DTA-ET@contacts.bham.ac.uk
1. We do not want to register reviews of diagnostic test accuracy, it is not a priority for us now and we haven't time, what should we do?
We are aware that CRGs manage large workloads and it would be important for CRGs to plan when would be appropriate to start registering systematic reviews of diagnostic test accuracy in order to ensure that they are in the best position to support authors. CRGs can write to any authors who contact them with a request to register a review of diagnostic test accuracy to explain their decision regarding systematic reviews of diagnostic test accuracy. It may be helpful to the author to include a date when this decision may be revisited.
2. We have an author who wants to register a systematic review of diagnostic test accuracy, what should we do?
CRGs should not register diagnostic test accuracy reviews until they have organised training for their authors.
When a UK-based CRG decides that it would like to start to accept authors' requests to register titles for SRDTA we recommend that members of the editorial team of the review group
- Attend training courses on reviews of diagnostic test accuracy provided in either Birmingham or Utrecht - see the training page on this website;
- Use the online self-help DTA training modules available on this website;
- Appoint a new editor or train an existing editor in diagnostic test accuracy.
3. Should we be developing a specialist register of studies?
Cochrane Review Groups are not expected to maintain a specialized register of diagnostic test accuracy studies for their group.
4. How do we develop our topic list and look for "areas of common interest"?
At present we think that CRGs will not have to develop a separate topic list and it may be more useful for CRGs to scope out good clinical questions regarding diagnosis and comparison of appropriate diagnostic tests and prioritisation of appropriate tests.
At present we are not certain how many areas of common interest will be identified. Therefore we would like CRGs to consider other review groups when registering titles. Studies of diagnostic test accuracy usually focus on one condition to be identified, which will usually be within the scope of one review group. Registered titles will be circulated to all review groups in the same way the systematic reviews of interventions are circulated to all groups. We look forward to developing guidance on this as more reviews are registered.
5. I would like to prepare a Cochrane diagnostic test accuracy review. What should I do?
As with Cochrane Intervention reviews you should contact the relevant Cochrane Review Group (CRG). However, please note, not all CRGs will start registering titles of Cochrane systematic reviews of diagnostic test accuracy (DTA). When a CRG is ready to start accepting authors' requests to register titles for DTA reviews we recommend that the author team includes members with the following expertise:
- Content expertise of the condition e.g. a clinician familiar with the target condition,
- Content expertise of the test e.g. a specialist with experience in performing the index and reference test,
- Information specialist,
- Experience of preparing a systematic review,
- Expertise of the methodology of diagnostic research (i.e. someone with expertise in the quality assessment using QUADAS-2, knowledge of diagnostic research and diagnostic research synthesis),
- Statistical expertise i.e. statistician with knowledge of diagnostic research and diagnostic research synthesis.
The CRG will assess each request to register a DTA review. The CRG may consider
- If the review falls into their scope
- If the review questions is suitable for a Cochrane review
- If the review question is a priority for their group
- the expertise of the review team (See above)
- availability of training and Handbook materials for themselves and for authors.
6. How do I find and contact the relevant CRG?
There are 50 or so Cochrane review groups (CRGs) covering the whole of medical health care. Visit the Cochrane Collaboration CRG page to find the CRG that appears to be most relevant to your chosen review.
7. When can I register my title?
Each CRG will decide when it is ready to accept systematic reviews of diagnostic test accuracy from authors. Your CRG may be ready to accept these reviews or may have deferred acceptance until a later date. Please contact your CRG for details.
8. When can I start writing my protocol?
Please contact your CRG for advice on when to write your protocol. You can prepare your protocol after your proposed title for a systematic review has been accepted by your CRG, the title has been formally registered and your CRG has created a template for the review and made this available to you.
Please use the Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Diagnostic Test Accuracy to guide you in the preparation of your protocol. The Handbook is in development and published chapters are available on our website handbook page.
All systematic reviews of diagnostic test accuracy must be prepared using the most recent version of RevMan. Please do not start to prepare your review until you have registered your title and received a review template from your CRG.
9. Is there a good search filter I could use?
We advise you not to use search filters at all as evidence suggests that you may miss relevant studies. The reason for this is that terms for identifying studies examining the accuracy of diagnostic tests are not well indexed in the electronic bibliographic databases, such as MEDLINE. More details are available in Chapter 7 of the Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Diagnostic Test Accuracy. This handbook is available from our website handbook page.
For advice on searching please contact the Trials Search Coordinator (TSC) of your CRG.
10. What quality checklist should I use?
We require that you to use the QUADAS-2 checklist and tailor it as necessary to your review question.
Chapter 9 of the Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Diagnostic Test Accuracy is being updated to reflect recent revisions of the QUADAS checklist. In the interim, review authors are advised to visit the QUADAS website http://www.bris.ac.uk/quadas for guidance on the use of the checklist.
11. What is the difference between Cochrane systematic reviews of interventions and Cochrane systematic reviews of diagnostic test accuracy?
Systematic reviews of diagnostic test accuracy are very different from intervention reviews. Accordingly we recommend that CRG staff attend training and workshops to learn more about diagnostic research and systematic reviews of diagnostic test accuracy.
The differences between these two categories of review include the requirement that all protocols and reviews are to be authorised for publication by the DTA Editorial Team and the Cochrane Review Group.
12. What is the Diagnostic Test Accuracy Editorial Team?
The Steering Group of the Cochrane Collaboration convened the DTA editorial team in 2008. It comprises experts in all methodological aspects of preparing systematic reviews of diagnostic test accuracy. The role of the DTA editorial Team is to manage the quality of DTA reviews in The Cochrane Library through the peer review of these reviews. It will provide peer review comments of the methodology for all protocols and full text systematic reviews of diagnostic test accuracy.
All Cochrane diagnostic test accuracy reviews, and protocols for reviews, will need to be approved for sign off by the DTA Editorial Team before they can be published on the Cochrane Library. The sign off for publication will also require the Cochrane review group to approve the protocol or review for publication. This is a 'dual' sign off procedure.
Details of the editorial team can be found on our Editorial Team webpage.
13. What is the Cochrane Diagnostic Test Accuracy Working Group (DTAWG)?
This group was originally set up by the SDTM Steering Group to develop and implement the reviews of diagnostic test accuracy within the Cochrane Collaboration. It is no longer convened.