About this resource:
Source: The Cochrane Collaborative
Last Reviewed: April 2014
Workgroups: Global Health Workgroup
This systematic review examined the effects of rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) for diagnosing malaria compared to relying on clinical symptoms alone. It identified 7 randomized controlled trials, which enrolled 17,505 people with fever. RDTs are simple diagnostic kits that do not require laboratory facilities or extensive training. In these trials, using RDTs had little or no effect on the number of people remaining unwell 4 to 7 days after treatment. However, using RDTs reduced the prescription of anti-malarial drugs by up to 75%. This reduction was highest where health workers only prescribed anti-malarials following a positive test, and where malaria was less common
Odaga, J., Sinclair, D., Lokong, J. A., Donegan, S., Hopkins, H., & Garner, P. (2014). Rapid diagnostic tests versus clinical diagnosis for managing people with fever in malaria endemic settings. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 2014 (4). DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD008998.pub2.