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Diagnostic Essay Example | Diagnostic Testing Related to Sensitivity/Specificity

The diagnostic testing presupposes completing some tasks and making many assumptions. Some of the concepts that play an important role in the process of identification of people suffering from the disease and people that do not have that condition are sensitivity and specificity. These steps are considered to serve for measuring the diagnostic accuracy.

Sensitivity of the test is regarded as the part of population diagnosed with the disease that has positive results. The concept of sensitivity can be determined only by testing those people who have the disease as it shows the effectiveness of test used to diagnose people with certain condition. The percentage shows to which extent the test defines the patient's condition. For instance, if seven people out of ten diagnosed with pulmonary edema show positive results in the test, the sensitivity of the testing is seven to ten or 70%. This number does not mean that only seven people suffer from this illness. It indicates that in seven cases out of ten the test proves that a person has pulmonary edema. The rest of people have the disease as well, but the test fails to prove it.


Akobeng states that the specificity of a test refers to "the proportion of people without the disease who will have a negative result". The concept serves for determining the effectiveness of the test in identifying people without the disease. If the test shows that 85 people out of 90 do not have certain condition, the specificity is 94% (85/90*100). Thus, in 94 cases out of 100 the test will correctly identify people without the disease.

The concepts of sensitivity and specificity in diagnostic testing are valuable as they help the caregivers see whether the test is effective in identifying people who have the disease and excluding those who do not. Sensitivity is used to determine whether the test is appropriate for finding people with some condition, and specificity is applied in order to find out whether the test is effective in identification of people that do not have that condition.