• Vol. 31 No. 3, 405–407
  • 15 May 2002

Agreement or Prediction: Asking and Answering the Right Question



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Introduction: Measuring agreement and measuring predictive ability are similar but distinct problems. Failure to appreciate the conceptual and practical differences may lead clinical researchers to give the right answer to the wrong question.

Methods: We illustrate the relation and difference between measuring agreement and predictive ability in a non-technical way. We provide a real example investigating the feasibility of using preoperative breast cancer tumour size measurements to estimate postoperative histological size. The intraclass correlation and R-squared are calculated to ascertain the level of agreement and predictive ability respectively.

Results: Analysis of agreement and analysis of predictive ability serve different purposes. The optimal solution found in terms of agreement may be different from that found for prediction.

Conclusions: A careful clarification of the goal of an investigation is important. Using an inappropriate analysis can lead to misleading results, or to results that do not really answer the research question of interest.

In an article published in this journal, Chia discusses the difference between measuring association and agreement. In this paper, we extend the discussion to the difference, in terms of the concepts as well as the practical usage, between analysing agreement and prediction.

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