Prediction-driven pooled testing methods: Application to HIV treatment monitoring in Rakai, Uganda

Adam Brand, Susanne May, James P. Hughes, Gertrude Nakigozi, Steven J. Reynolds, Erin E. Gabriel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Chronic medical conditions often necessitate regular testing for proper treatment. Regular testing of all afflicted individuals may not be feasible due to limited resources, as is true with HIV monitoring in resource-limited settings. Pooled testing methods have been developed in order to allow regular testing for all while reducing resource burden. However, the most commonly used methods do not make use of covariate information predictive of treatment failure, which could improve performance. We propose and evaluate four prediction-driven pooled testing methods that incorporate covariate information to improve pooled testing performance. We then compare these methods in the HIV treatment management setting to current methods with respect to testing efficiency, sensitivity, and number of testing rounds using simulated data and data collected in Rakai, Uganda. Results show that the prediction-driven methods increase efficiency by up to 20% compared with current methods while maintaining equivalent sensitivity and reducing number of testing rounds by up to 70%. When predictions were incorrect, the performance of prediction-based matrix methods remained robust. The best performing method using our motivating data from Rakai was a prediction-driven hybrid method, maintaining sensitivity over 96% and efficiency over 75% in likely scenarios. If these methods perform similarly in the field, they may contribute to improving mortality and reducing transmission in resource-limited settings. Although we evaluate our proposed pooling methods in the HIV treatment setting, they can be applied to any setting that necessitates testing of a quantitative biomarker for a threshold-based decision.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4185-4199
Number of pages15
JournalStatistics in Medicine
Issue number19
StatePublished - Aug 30 2021


  • matrix-based testing
  • mini pool
  • pooled testing
  • prediction-based testing
  • treatment failure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Statistics and Probability


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