Spectrum bias in the dipstick test for urinary tract infection
Health Services Research
The leukocyte esterase and bacterial nitrite dipstick test for UTI is susceptible to spectrum bias, which may be responsible for differences in the test's sensitivity reported in previous studies. As a more general principle, diagnostic tests may have different sensitivities or specificities in different parts of the clinical spectrum of the disease they purport to identify or exclude, but studies evaluating such tests rarely report sensitivity and specificity in subgroups defined by clinical symptoms. When diagnostic tests are evaluated, information about symptoms in the patients recruited for study should be included, and analyses should be done within appropriate clinical subgroups so that clinicians may decide if reported sensitivities and specificities are applicable to their patients.