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Estimating the diagnostic likelihood ratio of a continuous marker.

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Biostatistics. 2011 Jan 12 (1).

The diagnostic likelihood ratio function, DLR, is a statistical measure used to evaluate risk prediction markers. The goal of this paper is to develop new methods to estimate the DLR function. Furthermore, we show how risk prediction markers can be compared using rank-invariant DLR functions. Various estimators are proposed that accommodate cohort or case-control study designs. Performances of the estimators are compared using simulation studies. The methods are illustrated by comparing a lung function measure and a nutritional status measure for predicting subsequent onset of major pulmonary infection in children suffering from cystic fibrosis. For continuous markers, the DLR function is mathematically related to the slope of the receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve, an entity used to evaluate diagnostic markers. We show that our methodology can be used to estimate the slope of the ROC curve and illustrate use of the estimated ROC derivative in variance and sample size calculations for a diagnostic biomarker study.

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