Background: Self-tests, tests on body materials to detect medical conditions, are widely available to the general public. Self-testing does have advantages as well as disadvantages, and the debate on whether self-testing should be encouraged or rather discouraged is still ongoing. One of the concerns is whether consumers have sufficient knowledge to perform the test and interpret the results. An online decision aid (DA) with information on self-testing in general, and test specific information on cholesterol and diabetes self-testing was developed. The DA aims to provide objective information on these self-tests as well as a decision support tool to weigh the pros and cons of self-testing. The aim of this study is to evaluate the effect of the online decision aid on knowledge on self-testing, informed choice, ambivalence and psychosocial determinants.
Methods/Design: A single blind randomised controlled trial in which the online decision aid 'zelftestwijzer' is compared to short, non-interactive information on self-testing in general. The entire trial will be conducted online. Participants will be selected from an existing Internet panel. Consumers who are considering doing a cholesterol or diabetes self-test in the future will be included. Outcome measures will be assessed directly after participants have viewed either the DA or the control condition. Weblog files will be used to record participants' use of the decision aid.
Discussion: Self-testing does have important pros and cons, and it is important that consumers base their decision whether they want to do a self-test or not on knowledge and personal values. This study is the first to evaluate the effect of an online decision aid for self-testing.