• Open Access

Motivation and experiences of self-testers regarding tests for cardiovascular risk factors

Authors


Martine Ickenroth MD
PhD student and General Practitioner trainee
Department of General Practice
Maastricht University
PO Box 616
6200 MD Maastricht
the Netherlands
E-mail: martine.ickenroth@maastrichtuniversity.nl

Abstract

Background  In recent years, self-tests have become increasingly available to the general public, though their value is still being debated. Because these tests are available, consumers should have access to clear information about self-testing. Examining experiences of self-testers could contribute to the development of consumer information.

Objective  Detailed exploration of consumers’ experiences with self-testing for cardiovascular risk factors.

Methods  Semi-structured interviews with 20 consumers who had performed a self-test for glucose, cholesterol or albuminuria. The main topics of the interviews were reasons for self-testing, performing the self-test, follow-up behaviour and perceived need for information on self-testing. Data were analysed using thematic content analysis.

Results  Regarding the reason for self-testing, three types of users were distinguished: those who engaged in self-testing when a test was offered, either with or without previous knowledge about the disease or risk factor, and those who had actively decided to test and had searched for a self-test themselves. Self-testers had generally experienced no problems performing the test or interpreting the result and had considerable confidence in the result. They were easily reassured by a normal result, while an abnormal result did not automatically mean they consulted a doctor. Most participants did not feel the need for more information.

Conclusions  Self-testers often perform tests for reassurance, without considering the disadvantages, such as the absence of professional counselling and the risk of false-positive or false-negative results. Consumer information should promote more informed and deliberate choices for self-testing.

Ancillary