• Diagnosis;
  • Latent class analysis


Assessment of the value of diagnostic indicators such as symptoms and laboratory tests results from calculation of the sensitivity and specificity of the indicators. Knowledge of the rate of occurrence of the disease allows for additional calculations of the error rates in using an indicator. These calculations are accurate only when the data on which they are based are reliable. If the diagnosis, which is used as the criterion for computing the sensitivity and specificity, is not accurate, then the resulting calculations will be in error. We show how a statistical method, latent class analysis, allows for the estimation of the characteristics of indicators even when an accurate diagnosis is unavailable. In addition, the method deals with several indicators at once, and provides a way to combine the information from all the indicators to make a diagnosis.