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PLoS One. 2010 Nov 30;5(11):e14144. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0014144.

Perceptions of an ideal point-of-care test for sexually transmitted infections--a qualitative study of focus group discussions with medical providers.

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Department of Emergency Medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland, United States of America.



A point-of-care test (POCT) for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), which offers immediate diagnosis resulting in patients receiving diagnosis and treatment in a single visit, has the ability to address some of the STI control needs. However, needs assessment from STI experts and end users about currently available STI POCTs and their future new development has not been evaluated since World Health Organization Sexually Transmitted Diseases Diagnostics Initiative was formed over 15 years ago. Therefore, our objective was to explore the perceptions of the ideal types of STI POCT for use in health care settings.


A qualitative study, encompassing eight focus groups, was conducted from March 2008 through April 2009. Participants included 6 STD clinic directors, 63 clinicians, and 7 public health/laboratory/epidemiology professionals in the STI field. Discussion topics included currently available POCT, perceived barriers to using POCT in clinics, priority STI for the development of new POCT, and characteristics of the ideal POCT. All discussions were recorded and transcribed verbatim. Themes raised as barriers for current POCT included complexity, long time frames of the so-called "rapid" test, multiple time-driven steps, requiring laboratory technician, difficulty in reading result, interruption of workflow, unreliability, and invasiveness. Chlamydia trachomatis was identified as the priority organism for development of a new STI POCT. Themes indicated for the ideal POCT included rapid turnaround (up to 20 minutes), ease of use, non-invasive, accurate (preferred sensitivity and specificity in the range of high 90s), Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA)-waived, user-friendly (for both patients and staff), compact, durable, and sturdy.


Focus group discussions with STI experts and professionals highlighted chlamydia as the top priority pathogen for POCT development, and identified the qualities of new POCT for STIs. Participants endorsed ease of use, rapid turnaround and high accuracy as essential characteristics of an ideal POCT.

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