Senior man sitting at home using digital tablet for video calling. Mature man having online consultation with doctor.

Most older adults say they are interested in trying out direct-to-consumer, at-home medical tests. But not all who do share the results with primary care clinicians, according to a report from the National Poll on Healthy Aging.

Nearly half (48%) of adults aged 50 to 80 years old have bought at least one kind of at-home health test, the poll found. Top purchases included COVID-19 tests (32%) and DNA tests (17%), alongside tests for cancer (6%) and non-COVID infections (4%). Use varied greatly by age, race/ethnicity, marital status, income and years of education, investigators said.

In other poll findings, 74% of older adults described at-home tests as more convenient than tests taken through their healthcare provider, and 59% agreed that at-home tests could be trusted to produce reliable results. 

Sharing results

It’s an open question how the test results ultimately will be used, however. Although most older respondents agreed that at-home test results should be shared with a person’s doctor or other provider, not all do so, investigators found. Among patients testing for a non-COVID-19 infection such as a urinary tract infection or HIV, only 55% shared their results with their primary care provider, the poll data showed. In contrast, 90% of respondents who bought and used a cancer test said that they did share the result with a clinician.

“As more companies bring these direct-to-consumer tests to market and buy ads promoting them, it’s important for health are providers and policymakers to understand what patients might be purchasing, what they’re doing with the results, and how that fits into the broader clinical and regulatory picture,” poll director Jeffrey Kullgren, MD, MPH, said in a statement.

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