Open Access Research article

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

Janaica EJ Grispen13, Gaby Ronda13*, Geert-Jan Dinant13, Nanne K de Vries23 and Trudy van der Weijden13

Author Affiliations

1 Department of General Practice, Faculty of Health, Medicine, and Life Sciences, Maastricht University, Maastricht, The Netherlands

2 Department of Health Promotion, Faculty of Health, Medicine, and Life Sciences, Maastricht University, Maastricht, The Netherlands

3 CAPHRI School for Public Health and Primary Care, Maastricht University, Maastricht, The Netherlands

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BMC Public Health 2011, 11:112  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-112

Published: 17 February 2011



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.


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.


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.


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.