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In this blog interview Dr Annette Plüddemann shares with us which systematic review that she’s led or been involved in she would choose to take with her to read, if she was stranded on a desert island.

Can you introduce yourself and share your role in the MSc EBHC (Systematic Reviews) program?

My name is Annette Plüddemann. I am a Senior Researcher in the Centre for Evidence Based Medicine and the Course Director of the MSc in Evidence Based Health Care. I teach on two modules that form part of the  MScEBHC Systematic reviews, namely on Diagnostic Accuracy Reviews in the Complex Reviews module, and critical appraisal of diagnostic accuracy studies in the Practice of Evidence-Based Health Care.

If you were stranded on a "Desert Island", which systematic review that you have led or been involved in might you take with you to read?

Accuracy of self-diagnosis in conditions commonly managed in primary care: diagnostic accuracy systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ Open. 2023 Jan 10;13(1):e065748. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2022-065748.

What type of review was it?

Diagnostic accuracy systematic review

Why did you choose this review?

More and more tests are being marketed and sold for people to do themselves at home, and we see this increase particularly in the wake of the pandemic, where we were all asked to do COVID-19 tests ourselves at home.  I was interested in this topic already before the pandemic and I wanted to know what the research evidence says about the diagnostic accuracy of self-diagnosis, where people use diagnostic tests themselves and interpret the results.  This review formed part of a collaborative project looking at community-based models of care.

What did your review show?

We found surprisingly few studies overall looking at the diagnostic accuracy of self-diagnosis, and for many conditions where people might be doing self-diagnosis there was no evidence. The studies we found only looked at three conditions, namely HIV, vaginal infections, and common skin conditions. We didn’t find any studies for any other conditions. The evidence we did find does not support routine self-diagnosis in terms of the diagnostic accuracy of the tests.

What did you particularly enjoy about the review?

I really enjoyed working on this review because it formed part of a wider collaboration and it was rewarding to work with colleagues from different universities in the UK with a variety of expertise and my co-authors made for an excellent team. I also liked it because it asked what I felt was an important question and made us think about the assumptions we might make around the accuracy of self-diagnosis.

Reflecting on your review, what one learning would you offer individuals completing a systematic review for the first time?

It is a really good idea to work with others that share your interest in the topic and also have the right expertise for the type of review you are doing.

Finally, If you were stranded on a "Desert Island" and about to read your review, what one food or drink treat would you bring with you?

A glass of South African Pinotage.

You can learn more about the MSc EBHC (Systematic Reviews) programme through the dedicated webpage or by contacting

Please note: the views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of CEBM as a group.