I am an NHS General Practitioner and a research fellow currently doing a Doctorate at the University of Bristol, with an interest in the use of diagnostic tests.
My PhD is looking at specific blood tests called 'inflammatory markers'. These detect inflammation in the blood but don't tell us what is causing it: it may be as simple as a viral infection or as serious as cancer. GPs do millions of inflammatory marker blood tests each year and rates of testing are rising. I have done qualitative interviews with GPs who have told me they are not always sure when to test or how to interpret results. These uncertainties stem from that fact that almost all previous studies, which I have reviewed in the BMJ, describe laboratory findings for a given disease, and most are based in secondary care. My research sets out to describe the probability of various diseases given the test results in primary care.