How to investigate the clinical neurological relevance of a new diagnostic test

There are different important steps on the road towards designing new tools to aid in the diagnostic process of neurological disorders. Van den Bruel et al (J Clin Epidemiol, 2007) proposed a stepwise evaluation of diagnostic tests consisting of 1) verifying the test’s technical accuracy, 2) determining the place of the new test in the clinical pathway, 3) assessing the test’s diagnostic accuracy and 4) assessesing the test’s impact on patient outcome. Unfortunately, many new tests are proposed in the literature that already claim clinical relevance when they have only shown that the test allows to distinguish patients and controls … Even though we do not always follow the steps proposed by van den Bruel et al either, in our study that was just published in Measurement (first author Esther Smits, result from the DiPAR study), we nicely show the reproducibility of standardized fine motor control tasks in healthy adults of different ages. This is an important step towards using such tasks in the differential diagnosis of motor disorders such as Parkinson’s disease. The paper is freely downloadable until November 18, 2017!

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