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  • 1 Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, Hungary
  • 2 Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, Hungary
Open access

Background and Aims

Survey-based studies often fail to take into account the predictive value of a test, in other words, the probability of a person having (or not having) the disease when scoring positive (or negative) on the given screening test.

Methods

We re-visited the theory and basic calculations of diagnostic accuracy.

Results

In general, the lower the prevalence the worse the predictive value is. When the disorder is relatively rare, a positive test finding is typically not useful in confirming its presence given the high proportion of false positive cases. For example, using the Compulsive Buying Scale (Faber & O’Guinn, 1992) three in four people classified as having compulsive buying disorder will in fact not have the disorder.

Conclusions

Screening tests are limited to serve as an early detection “gate” and only clinical (interview-based) studies are suitable to claim that a certain behaviour is truly “pathological”.

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