Objective To improve the accuracy and completeness of reporting of studies of diagnostic accuracy, to allow readers to assess the potential for bias in a study, and to evaluate a study's generalisability.
Methods The Standards for Reporting of Diagnostic Accuracy (STARD) steering committee searched the literature to identify publications on the appropriate conduct and reporting of diagnostic studies and extracted potential items into an extensive list. Researchers, editors, and members of professional organisations shortened this list during a two day consensus meeting, with the goal of developing a checklist and a generic flow diagram for studies of diagnostic accuracy.
Results The search for published guidelines about diagnostic research yielded 33 previously published checklists, from which we extracted a list of 75 potential items. At the consensus meeting, participants shortened the list to a 25 item checklist, by using evidence, whenever available. A prototype of a flow diagram provides information about the method of patient recruitment, the order of test execution, and the numbers of patients undergoing the test under evaluation and the reference standard, or both.
Conclusions Evaluation of research depends on complete and accurate reporting. If medical journals adopt the STARD checklist and flow diagram, the quality of reporting of studies of diagnostic accuracy should improve to the advantage of clinicians, researchers, reviewers, journals, and the public.