Which? checks credibility of DIY health tests

Do-it-yourself health kits bought off the shelf and carried out at home may do more harm than good for some people, the consumer campaign group Which? has warned.

The organisation bought six widely available self-test kits for complaints from prostate cancer to stomach ulcers.

These units were then assessed against the accuracy of the information that they provided and their ease of use, while members of the public were asked about the information from their perspective.

Problems identified included:

  • gaps in the information provided, with some tests failing to mention factors that could affect the results and cause unnecessary worry;
  • difficulty of use;
  • baffling language;
  • false alarms or false reassurance; and
  • misleading naming.

Some consumers even said that the prostate test results could have led them not to seek medical help, Which? added.

Peter Vicary-Smith, Which? chief executive, said: “Self-test health kits could be a useful tool, but the lack of clear information about how to use them could do more harm than good. As your GP may well have to carry out their own tests to confirm a positive diagnosis anyway, you may be better off saving your money and going straight to your GP.”

Devices tested include the:

  • Boots Bowel Home Test Kit, £12.25;
  • Self-Check Prostate Health Test, £15.99;
  • Care Diagnostica Cholesterol Health Care Test, £9.99;
  • Boots Home Test Kit for blood glucose, £12.25;
  • Atlas Home Urinary Tract Infection Test, £4.49; and
  • Simplicity Stomach Ulcer Scr­eening Test, £12.

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