To test or not to test: a cross-sectional survey of the psychosocial determinants of self-testing for cholesterol, glucose, and HIV

BMC Public Health. 2011 Feb 17:11:112. doi: 10.1186/1471-2458-11-112.


Background: Although self-tests are increasingly available and widely used, it is not clear whether their use is beneficial to the users, and little is known concerning the determinants of self-test use. The aim of this study was to identify the determinants of self-test use for cholesterol, glucose, and HIV, and to examine whether these are similar across these tests. Self-testing was defined as using in-vitro tests on body materials, initiated by consumers with the aim of diagnosing a particular disorder, condition, or risk factor for disease.

Methods: A cross-sectional Internet survey was conducted among 513 self-testers and 600 non-testers, assessing possible determinants of self-test use. The structured questionnaire was based on the Health Belief Model, Theory of Planned Behavior, and Protection Motivation Theory. Data were analyzed by means of logistic regression.

Results: The results revealed that perceived benefits and self-efficacy were significantly associated with self-testing for all three conditions. Other psychosocial determinants, e.g. gender, cues to action, perceived barriers, subjective norm, and moral obligation, seemed to be more test-specific.

Conclusions: Psychosocial determinants of self-testing are not identical for all tests and therefore information about self-testing needs to be tailored to a specific test. The general public should not only be informed about advantages of self-test use but also about the disadvantages. Designers of information about self-testing should address all aspects related to self-testing to stimulate informed decision making which, in turn, will result in more effective self-test use.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Blood Glucose Self-Monitoring*
  • Child
  • Cholesterol / blood*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • HIV Seropositivity / diagnosis*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Self Care / psychology*
  • Young Adult


  • Cholesterol