Clinical Research Glossary

specificity (medical test) specificity (medical test)

How well a medical test can accurately identify people who do not have a disease or trait.

Example of specificity (medical test) in a sentence

The specificity of a test refers to how well it identifies when an illness is not present.

More Info

A medical test that has high specificity means it is very good at detecting if a person does not have a disease. If it has low specificity it identifies people as having the disease when they actually do not.

Greater specificity allows people who do not have a condition to be identified and screened out so resources can be put toward caring for people who do have the condition.

For example, a COVID test with high specificity means the test correctly identifies when people don’t have the infection.

Other info to think about when joining a study

In clinical research and medicine, the term “specificity” is used to describe how well a medical test works to show people who do not have an illness or condition. A test that works well to rule out people who do not have an illness or condition is said to be very specific.

You can always ask the study team if you have any questions about the way the term “specificity” is being used in the study information.

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