Factors affecting antenatal point of care testing for syphilis, anaemia and HIV in primary health care centres in Sedibeng district, South Africa
Background: Point of Care Testing (POCT) refers to qualitative or quantitative tests done in health facilities where the patient is being attended to (on-site), and not in the conventional hospital laboratory setting. As a consequence of many developing countries not having access to conventional laboratory services (with trained laboratory personnel), diagnostic testing often relies on the availability of valid POC tests. All pregnant women attending antenatal care clinics in the Sedibeng District Primary Health Care (PHC) centres should be screened for syphilis, anaemia and HIV. This can be done by means of POC testing, which is easy to perform. These POC tests provide results promptly allowing treatment to be commenced immediately, if required. Despite this highly desirable benefit of POCT, there is circumstantial evidence which suggests that staff is choosing to send specimens to the laboratory for testing, instead of doing POCT themselves. The extent to which this happens and the factors contributing to this practice are not clear. Aim: The aim of this study was to assess the prevalence of screening for syphilis, anaemia, and HIV amongst pregnant women during their first antenatal care visit to PHC facilities in the Sedibeng District, and to establish the factors affecting the prevalence of appropriately using POCT for screening tests. Methodology: Study design: A quantitative, analytical, cross-sectional study was conducted. Study Population and Sample: Patient registers, staff expected to perform POCT and facility managers. 33 District’s health care workers expected to perform POCT on pregnant women during the first ANC visit and 30 facility managers from these facilities; 360 patient records (these were collected from a total of 7 200 patients’ records). The data was collected over a six month period (from 1st July 2012 to 31st December 2012). Data collection: Data was collected from 360 patient records to determine the rate, appropriateness and mechanism of screening for syphilis, anaemia and, HIV in pregnant women on their first antenatal visit. Interviewer-administered closed-ended questions was asked from 30 antenatal care clinic staff tasked with performing POC tests and from 30 PHC facility managers to determine the factors affecting the rate of conducting POCT. Data analysis: Data was analysed using univariate, bivariate and multivariate analyses. Ethical considerations: No harm was anticipated to anyone participating in the study or from the findings of the study. A major benefit of the study was that clarity on the factors affecting the rate of screening and the use of POCT was gained. This will hopefully facilitate the implementation of evidence–based interventions to improve POCT uptake if required.