Background: A range of self-tests on body materials has become available to the general public, but the extent of their use has hardly been studied. This study examined how many people use diagnostic self-tests on body materials such as blood or urine, as well as the type of tests that are used, and factors associated with their use.
Methods: Cross-sectional survey. Participants were recruited from an existing Dutch Internet panel of 12,529 persons, and information was collected by means of a structured Internet-based questionnaire. Multiple logistic regression analyses were used to assess correlates of self-test use.
Results: Response to the survey was 63%. Sixteen percent of the respondents said they had ever used at least one self-test, with a mean of 2.1 tests per self-tester. The most frequently reported self-tests were those for diabetes and cholesterol. Self-testers generally reported lower health status and had a higher BMI than non-testers. On the other hand, they were more likely to engage in health-related behaviour such as the use of dietary supplements and homeopathic medicine.
Conclusion: Self-testing proved to be relatively prevalent among Dutch Internet users. We therefore think that it is essential to develop appropriate information for consumers, health care providers and policymakers, about the pros and cons of self-testing and specific self-tests. More test-specific research is needed.