Systematic review finds little benefit for point of care testing

January 01, 0001

Systematic review finds little benefit for point of care testing

Point-of-care testing (PoCT) had been increasingly used in the primary care setting and has the potential to provide improved health outcomes for patients. These Australian researchers sought to systematically review the literature on the analytical performance, clinical effectiveness, cost and satisfaction of patients and health professionals with PoCT in diabetes, hyperlipidemia and anticoagulation therapy in general practice. PubMed, EMBASE, CINAHL, Current Contents, BIDS and the Cochrane Library databases were searched using key terms relating to PoCT mincluding glycosylated haemoglobin, urine albumin creatinine ratio, total cholesterol, triglycerides, high-density lipoprotein and international normalized ratio.

The authors found: "Nine papers from six randomized or quasi- randomized trials were included in the review. Large between-study heterogeneity made pooling of the data inappropriate. In terms of clinical effectiveness, no study found a significant difference between PoCT and pathology laboratory testing. There was a similar lack of data in relation to the analytical performance of PoCT, to cost outcomes and to patient and health professional satisfaction, making conclusions difficult to infer."

They concluded: "This systematic review does not provide robust evidence that PoCT in general practice improves patient health outcomes, that it has comparable analytical quality to pathology laboratory testing, that it is cost-effective compared to usual care or that patients and health professionals find PoCT satisfactory. The number of trials is low, the follow-up of patients is short and many of the trials did not investigate PoCT as a separate intervention."

This systematic review finds little evidence for benefits of point of care testing in the primary care setting, although the data were limited and further definitive study would be warranted.

For the full abstract, click here.

Family Practice 27(1):17-24, February 2010
© 2009 Gialamasa et al.
Point-of-care testing for patients with diabetes, hyperlipidaemia or coagulation disorders in the general practice setting: a systematic review. Angela Gialamasa, Andrew St John, Caroline Olivia Laurence, Tanya Kaye Bubnera and members of the PoCT Management Committee. Correspondence to Angela Gialamasa:

Category: HSR. Health Services Research. Keywords: Anticoagulant therapy, diabetes, general practice, hyperlipidemia, point-of-care testing, systematic review, journal watch.
Synopsis edited by Dr Paul Schaefer, Toledo, Ohio. Posted on Global Family Doctor 24 February 2010

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