Value of the "Test and Treat" Strategy for uninvestigated dyspepsia at low prevalence rates of Helicobacter pylori in the population

Lars Agréus*, Nicholas J. Talley, Michael Jones

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    7 Citations (Scopus)


    Background and Aim: In populations with a low prevalence rate of Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection from Western countries, guidelines for the management of uninvestigated dyspepsia generally recommend that the "test and treat" strategy should be avoided in favor of empiric proton-pump inhibitor therapy in younger patients (on average < 50 years of age) without alarm symptoms and signs. The prevalence of H. pylori infection has fallen from about 30% to about 10% in Sweden and other countries. We aimed to explore whether the rationale for test and treat is relevant in contemporary clinical practice. Materials and Methods: In settings with an infection rate in the adult population of 30% and 10%, we modeled the positive and negative predictive values for indirect (nonendoscopy) tests on current H. pylori infection with a presumed sensitivity and specificity of 95%. We then calculated the difference in false-negative and false-positive test outcome, and eradication prescription rates in the two scenarios. Results: While the positive predictive value for the test decreased from 0.89 to 0.68 when the prevalence of H. pylori fell from 30% to 10%, there were only 1% more false-negative tests and 1% less false-positive tests. The eradication prescription rate would decrease by 18% with a 10% prevalence rate. Conclusion: The recommendation to stop applying "test and treat" at lower prevalence rates of H. pylori should be reconsidered. The test and treat strategy is the preferred approach for most patients who present with dyspepsia.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)186-191
    Number of pages6
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2016


    • test and treat
    • dyspepsia/diagnosis
    • Helicobacter pylori
    • primary care


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