Glossary of terms (terminology and key principles).

Browse the glossary using this index

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Target population

The condition or classification of disease the test is intended to detect.

Entry link: Target population

Test purpose

Test purpose describes the intended clinical application of the test and how the test information will be used to improve clinical management in practice.


  • HbA1c as a diagnostic marker of diabetes mellitus.
  • HbA1c as a monitoring test to assess diabetes control.
  • hs-cTn for diagnosing ACS.
  • hs-cTn as a prognostic marker for cardiovascular morbidity and mortality.

Entry link: Test purpose

Test role

Test role describes how the test, used for a specific clinical purpose, will be positioned to alter the existing clinical pathway in a specific condition or target population:

Replacement: When a new test replaces an existing test in the testing pathway.

Triage: When the new test is used before the existing test or testing pathway, and only patients with a particular result on the triage test continue on the testing pathway.

Add-on: When a new test is added to the existing testing pathway, either to help interpreting results of analyses when establishing a diagnosis or to assist patient management.


  • Replacement: cTn-s replacing CK-MB as a biomarker of myocardial damage. CRP replacing erythrocyte sedimentation rate as marker of acute inflammation.
  • Triage: Natriuretic peptides before echocardiography for congestive heart failure
  • Add-on: Immunofixation for typing is added when monoclonal gammopathy is found on serum protein electrophoresis. HbA1c monitoring together with self-monitoring of blood glucose in managing Type 1 diabetes patients

Entry link: Test role

Test sensitivity

The proportion of individuals with the target condition present who are correctly identified by the biomarker.

Entry link: Test sensitivity

Test specificity

The proportion of individuals with the target condition absent who are correctly identified by the biomarker.

Entry link: Test specificity