Testing for allergic disease: Parameters considered and test value
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Citation:Sheryl L. Szeinbach et al, "Testing for allergic disease: Parameters considered and test value," BMC Family Practice 9 (2009), doi: 10.1186/1471-2296-9-47, http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2296/9/47
Background: Test results for allergic disease are especially valuable to allergists and family physicians for clinical evaluation, decisions to treat, and to determine needs for referral. Methods: This study used a repeated measures design (conjoint analysis) to examine trade offs among clinical parameters that influence the decision of family physicians to use specific IgE blood testing as a diagnostic aid for patients suspected of having allergic rhinitis. Data were extracted from a random sample of 50 family physicians in the Southeastern United States. Physicians evaluated 11 patient profiles containing four clinical parameters: symptom severity (low, medium, high), symptom length (5, 10, 20 years), family history (both parents, mother, neither), and medication use (prescribed antihistamines, nasal spray, over-the-counter medications). Decision to recommend specific IgE testing was elicited as a "yes" or "no" response. Perceived value of specific IgE blood testing was evaluated according to usefulness as a diagnostic tool compared to skin testing, and not testing. Results: The highest odds ratios (OR) associated with decisions to test for allergic rhinitis were obtained for symptom severity (OR, 12.11; 95%CI, 7.1–20.7) and length of symptoms (OR, 1.46; 95%CI, 0.96–2.2) with family history having significant influence in the decision. A moderately positive association between testing issues and testing value was revealed (β = 0.624, t = 5.296, p ≤ 0.001) with 39% of the variance explained by the regression model. Conclusion: The most important parameters considered when testing for allergic rhinitis relate to symptom severity, length of symptoms, and family history. Family physicians recognize that specific IgE blood testing is valuable to their practice.