'Hit and miss' warning on home health tests

Home health kits could be a waste of time, effort and money, according to Which?

The DIY kits for conditions including prostate cancer and stomach ulcers could cause false alarm or provide false reassurance, the consumer magazine found.



"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," chief executive Peter Vicary-Smith said.



"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."



Which? experts examined six kits, available at chemists or online for between £4.99 and £15.99, and interviewed 64 members of the public about thier use.



The results were "hit and miss", with some consumers saying the prostate test results could have led to them not seeking medical help.



The research also found gaps in information which could lead to unnecessary worry.



For example, a Boots blood glucose test kit marketed as helping "in the early detection of diabetes" failed to mention that glucose levels can be raised after a meal, Which? said.



And a Boots bowel test kit did not provide dietary advice such as avoiding red meat for three days before the test.



There were also examples of "baffling language, with consumers in one case asked to draw blood from the "hillside" of the finger.



Other potentially confusing terms included "separation membranes", "desiccant" and "in-vitro diagnostic device".



The Selfcheck Health Test, which tests for an antigen (PSA) linked to prostate problems, did not explain that recent sexual activity, a urine infection or vigorous exercise, could raise PSA levels, the researchers said.



And the Simplicity Stomach Ulcer Screening Test was misleadingly named, Which? said.



It tests for a particular bacteria but only a minority of people with that bacteria are likely to develop a stomach ulcer.



Which? experts and the Plain English Campaign will pass their findings to the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Products Agency (MHRA) and self-testing kit manufacturers to try to help improve the quality of information supplied.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Account Manager / Media Sales - OTE up to £30,000

    £20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This award-winning company, whi...

    Recruitment Genius: Senior Software Developer

    £40000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique & exciting opp...

    Recruitment Genius: UX Consultant

    £35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will be working with a 8 st...

    Recruitment Genius: Part-time Editor

    £8000 - £12000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A unique opportunity has arisen ...

    Day In a Page

    A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

    Britain's Atlantis

    Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past
    The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember,' says Starkey

    The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember'

    David Starkey's assessment
    Oliver Sacks said his life has been 'an enormous privilege and adventure'

    'An enormous privilege and adventure'

    Oliver Sacks writing about his life
    'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

    'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

    The Rock's Chief Minister hits back at Spanish government's 'lies'
    Britain is still addicted to 'dirty coal'

    Britain still addicted to 'dirty' coal

    Biggest energy suppliers are more dependent on fossil fuel than a decade ago
    Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

    Orthorexia nervosa

    How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
    Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

    Lady Chatterley’s Lover

    Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
    Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

    Set a pest to catch a pest

    Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
    Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

    The dark side of Mexico

    A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
    Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

    Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

    Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
    A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

    A nap a day could save your life

    A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
    If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

    If men are so obsessed by sex...

    ...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
    The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

    Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

    The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
    The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

    Rolling in the deep

    The bathing machine is back but with a difference
    Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

    Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

    Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935