A multi-country qualitative study of clinicians' and patients' views on point of care tests for lower respiratory tract infection

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Abstract

Background. Point of care tests (POCTs) are being promoted to better target antibiotic prescribing with the aim of improving outcomes and containing antibiotic resistance.

Objective. We aimed to explore clinician and patient views about POCTs to assist with the diagnosis and management of lower respiratory tract infection (LRTI) in primary care.

Methods. Multi-country European qualitative interview study with 80 primary care clinicians and 121 adult patients in nine primary care networks who had recently consulted with symptoms of acute cough/LRTI. Transcripts were subjected to a five-stage analytic framework approach (familiarization, developing a thematic framework from the interview questions and the themes emerging from the data, indexing, charting, and mapping to search for interpretations in the data), with local network facilitators commenting on preliminary reports.

Results. Clinicians who did not routinely use POCTs for acute cough/LRTI felt that the tests’ advantages included managing patient expectations for antibiotics. Perceived disadvantages included questionable test performance, problems interpreting results, a detraction from clinical reasoning, costs, time and patients not wanting, or demanding, the tests. Clinicians who routinely used POCTs echoed these disadvantages. Almost all patients would be happy to be managed with the addition of a POCT. Patients with experience of POCTs accepted it as part of routine care.

Conclusions. Acceptability of POCTs to clinicians is likely to be improved if tests perform well on accuracy, time to result, simplicity and cost. Including POCTs in the routine management of acute cough/LRTI is likely to be acceptable to most patients.

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