Lead researchers

About the project 

Every year, millions of patients visit their GP with respiratory infections like coughs, colds and flu. GPs give medicines called antibiotics to many, but antibiotics only help a small proportion of these patients – those with bacterial infections. It would help if GPs could tell which infections are caused by bacteria and which by viruses, but there is currently no good test for this. However, new test machines are being developed which GPs could use. These ‘point-of-care’ tests use samples from the nose or back of the throat and give results quickly, allowing GPs to see if viruses or bacteria are there. 

This study involves getting GPs to test these machines for two months. We will look at how the tests are used and whether they change the treatment GPs give to patients. We will ask GPs, and other primary care practitioners, how the test fits into the flow of their appointments, and what information they need to use them. Using our results, we will design a future study of point-of-care tests for respiratory infections. This study will tell us whether these new tests could help the NHS safely reduce antibiotic use.

Project aim

This highly novel study aims to inform the design of a future feasibility randomised controlled trial or observational study of microbiological point-of-care tests. We will describe the usage, microbiological results, clinician information needs, and barriers to implementation of a novel microbiological point-of-care test for patients with respiratory infections in primary care.

Anticipated impacts

New knowledge to inform the design of future studies.


National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) School for Primary Care Research

Project dates 

September 2018 to August 2019.