Improved nonparametric estimation of the optimal diagnostic cut-off point associated with the Youden index under different sampling schemes

Jingjing Yin, Hani Samawi, Daniel Linder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Scopus citations


A diagnostic cut-off point of a biomarker measurement is needed for classifying a random subject to be either diseased or healthy. However, the cut-off point is usually unknown and needs to be estimated by some optimization criteria. One important criterion is the Youden index, which has been widely adopted in practice. The Youden index, which is defined as the maximum of (sensitivity + specificity −1), directly measures the largest total diagnostic accuracy a biomarker can achieve. Therefore, it is desirable to estimate the optimal cut-off point associated with the Youden index. Sometimes, taking the actual measurements of a biomarker is very difficult and expensive, while ranking them without the actual measurement can be relatively easy. In such cases, ranked set sampling can give more precise estimation than simple random sampling, as ranked set samples are more likely to span the full range of the population. In this study, kernel density estimation is utilized to numerically solve for an estimate of the optimal cut-off point. The asymptotic distributions of the kernel estimators based on two sampling schemes are derived analytically and we prove that the estimators based on ranked set sampling are relatively more efficient than that of simple random sampling and both estimators are asymptotically unbiased. Furthermore, the asymptotic confidence intervals are derived. Intensive simulations are carried out to compare the proposed method using ranked set sampling with simple random sampling, with the proposed method outperforming simple random sampling in all cases. A real data set is analyzed for illustrating the proposed method.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)915-934
Number of pages20
JournalBiometrical Journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2016
Externally publishedYes



  • Diagnostic accuracy
  • Kernel smoothing
  • ROC analysis
  • Ranked set sampling
  • Youden index

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Statistics, Probability and Uncertainty

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