Estimating the prevalence of multiple diseases from two-stage hierarchical pooling

Md S. Warasi, Joshua M. Tebbs, Christopher S. McMahan, Christopher R. Bilder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Testing protocols in large-scale sexually transmitted disease screening applications often involve pooling biospecimens (e.g., blood, urine, and swabs) to lower costs and to increase the number of individuals who can be tested. With the recent development of assays that detect multiple diseases, it is now common to test biospecimen pools for multiple infections simultaneously. Recent work has developed an expectation–maximization algorithm to estimate the prevalence of two infections using a two-stage, Dorfman-type testing algorithm motivated by current screening practices for chlamydia and gonorrhea in the USA. In this article, we have the same goal but instead take a more flexible Bayesian approach. Doing so allows us to incorporate information about assay uncertainty during the testing process, which involves testing both pools and individuals, and also to update information as individuals are tested. Overall, our approach provides reliable inference for disease probabilities and accurately estimates assay sensitivity and specificity even when little or no information is provided in the prior distributions. We illustrate the performance of our estimation methods using simulation and by applying them to chlamydia and gonorrhea data collected in Nebraska.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3851-3864
Number of pages14
JournalStatistics in Medicine
Issue number21
StatePublished - Sep 20 2016


  • Bayesian estimation
  • group testing
  • infertility prevention project
  • pooled testing
  • screening
  • sensitivity
  • specificity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Statistics and Probability

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Estimating the prevalence of multiple diseases from two-stage hierarchical pooling'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this