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PLoS One. 2017 Nov 30;12(11):e0188653. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0188653. eCollection 2017.

Socio-demographic, health-related, and individual correlates of diagnostic self-testing by lay people: Results from a representative survey in Germany.

Author information

Department Health and Prevention, Ernst-Moritz-Arndt-University Greifswald, Greifswald, Germany.
Department of Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy, University Medical Center of the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, Mainz, Germany.
Clinic and Polyclinic for Psychiatry and Psychosomatics of the University of Medical Centre Carl Gustav Carus of the Technical University of Dresden, Dresden, Germany.
Department of Psychosomatic and Psychotherapy of the Medical University of Hannover, Hannover, Germany.



A broad range of self-tests (testing for e.g. HIV, cancer, hepatitis B/C) have become available and can be conducted by lay consumers without the help of a health professional. The aims of this study were to (a) investigate the prevalence of self-testing, (b) identify the most frequently used self-tests, and (c) explore the associations between socio-demographic, health-related and individual factors with self-testing.


A face-to-face plus paper-pencil cross-sectional survey was conducted. The sample consisted of 2.527 respondents who were representative of the German population in terms of the age, sex, and residence. Basic descriptive statistics and univariate logistic regression analyses were performed.


8.5% of the participants reported having used one or more self-tests in the past, totalling 363 self-tests, with a mean of 1.7 (min. = 1, max. = 6). The three self-tests most frequently indicated were for detecting diabetes, bowel cancer, and allergies. Self-testers were older (Nagelkerke R2 = .006, p < .01), had a higher BMI (Nagelkerke R2 = .013, p < .001) and displayed more physical and mental fatigue (Nagelkerke R2 = .031, p < .001) than non-testers. Self-testers also reported higher global life satisfaction values (Nagelkerke R2 = .008, p < .01) and a higher educational level (Nagelkerke R2 = .015, p < .01).


Self-testing is fairly prevalent in Germany Given the current shortage of physicians in Germany, especially in rural areas, and recent studies on the use of self-medication, the topic of self-testing has a great practical and socio-political relevance. Future studies should investigate further predictors of self-testing (e.g. contextual, situational and individual factors) as well as the emotional consequences of testing as a layperson without the attendance of a health professional.

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