Impact of a rapid point of care test for influenza on guideline consistent care and antibiotic use

Ariella Perry Dale, Mark Ebell, Brian McKay, Andreas Handel, Ronald Forehand, Kevin Dobbin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Background: Rapid influenza diagnostic tests that detect the presence of viral antigens are currently used throughout the United States but have poor sensitivity. The objective of this study was to identify if the use of a new highly accurate rapid point of care test would significantly increase the likelihood of guideline consistent care. Methods: We prospectively recruited 300 students at a university health clinic who presented with cough and 1 influenza-like illness symptom between December 2016 and February 2017 to receive care guided by a rapid polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test. Of the 300 patients receiving the PCR test, 264 had complete medical records and were compared to 771 who received usual care. We used a logistic regression model to identify whether PCR guided care was associated with guideline consistent care, based on the appropriate use of oseltamivir and antibiotics. We also assessed whether PCR guided care decreased the likelihood of return visits within 2 weeks by patients. Results: Logistic regression revealed that the odds of receiving guideline supported care did not significantly increase for patients who received PCR guided care (adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 1.24; 95% CI, 0.83-1.88). It significantly decreased the likelihood of an antibiotic prescription (aOR, 0.61; 95% CI, 0.40-0.94), increased the likelihood of receiving oseltamivir (aOR, 1.57; 95% CI, 1.09 -2.28), and decreased the likelihood of return visit within 2 weeks (aOR, 0.19; 95% CI, 0.04-0.81). Conclusions: The use of a rapid PCR test did not significantly improve the likelihood of guideline consistent care. However, independent of test outcome, patients who received the test were more likely to receive an antiviral and less likely to receive an antibiotic or have a return visit within 2 weeks. (J Am Board Fam Med 2019;32:226 -233.).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)226-233
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Board of Family Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2019


  • Antibiotics
  • Antiviral agents
  • Diagnostic tests
  • Influenza
  • Point of care testing
  • Polymerase chain reaction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Family Practice


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