Background: Clinicians and developers identify sensitivity as an important quality in a point-of-care test (POCT) for sexually transmissible infections (STIs). Little information exists regarding what patients want for STI POCTs.
Methods: A qualitative study, encompassing five focus groups among attendees of STI and adolescent health centres in Baltimore, Maryland, and Cincinnati, Ohio, were conducted between March 2008 and April 2009. Discussion topics included advantages and disadvantages of having a POCT, perceived barriers to using POCTs in the clinic setting and at home, priorities for the development of new POCTs for STIs, and envisioned characteristics of an ideal POCT. All discussions were recorded and transcribed. A qualitative content analysis was performed to examine frequencies or patterns of recurring codes, which were regrouped and indexed to identify salient themes.
Results: Patients attending STI and adolescent outpatient clinics are in favour of diagnostic tests that are rapid, easy to read and simple to use. Home testing options for POCTs were acceptable and provided better confidentiality, privacy and convenience, but clinic-based POCTs were also acceptable because they offer definitive results and ensure immediate treatment. Barriers to home POCTs centred on cost and the ability to read and perform the test correctly at home. Opinions did not differ by patient ethnicity, except that Hispanic participants questioned the reliability of home test results, wanted high sensitivity and desired bilingual instructions.
Conclusions: Patients attending STI and adolescent medical centres are in favour of STI POCTs if they are affordable, rapid, easy to read and simple to use.