General practitioners' perceptions of introducing near-patient testing for common infections into routine primary care: a qualitative study

Scand J Prim Health Care. 2008;26(1):17-21. doi: 10.1080/02813430701726285.


Objective: Near-patient tests are promoted for guiding management of common infections in primary care with a view to enhancing the effectiveness of prescribing decisions and containing antimicrobial resistance. Changes in clinical practice should be based on appraisals of the factors that might influence change, viewed from the perspective of those expected to implement the change. We therefore explored the views of general practitioners concerning the possible introduction of near-patient tests for managing common infections.

Design: Qualitative semi-structured interview study. Interviews were recorded and analysed using thematic content analysis.

Setting: General practices in south-east Wales, UK.

Subjects: A total of 26 general practitioners (GPs) from high fluroquinolone antibiotics prescribing practices and 14 GPs from practices that prescribed fluroquinolones close to the south-east Wales mean.

Results: There was strong enthusiasm for a hypothetical near-patient, finger-prick blood tests that could distinguish viral from bacterial infections. Many GPs emphasized that such tests would be valuable in "selling" decisions not to prescribe antibiotics to patients. Concerns included limited additional useful information to guide prescribing above clinical diagnosis alone, that patients might deteriorate even if the tests correctly identified a viral aetiology, and that GPs would need to be convinced by research evidence supporting uptake. Several indicated that tests would be useful only for a limited number of patients and they were concerned by time pressures, apparatus maintenance and quality control, cost, and possible objections from patients, especially children.

Conclusions: Despite GP enthusiasm for the concept of a rapid test to distinguish viral from bacterial infection, strategies to promote uptake would be enhanced if concerns were addressed regarding the importance and feasibility of such tests in daily practice.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Bacterial Infections / blood
  • Bacterial Infections / diagnosis
  • Bacterial Infections / drug therapy*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Family Practice
  • Fluoroquinolones / administration & dosage*
  • Humans
  • Physicians, Family
  • Point-of-Care Systems*
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'
  • Primary Health Care
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Virus Diseases / blood
  • Virus Diseases / diagnosis


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Fluoroquinolones