Home monitoring of haemoglobin A1c in diabetes: a systematic review and narrative synthesis on accuracy, reliability and patient acceptability

Jack Colley, Hajira Dambha-Miller, Beth Stuart, Jazz Bartholomew, Madeleine Benton, Jeni Baykoca, Hermione Price

Research output: Contribution to journalLiterature reviewpeer-review


Aim: In the UK people with diabetes who do not attend annual review appointments often have higher haemoglobin A1c (HbA1c ) levels. We aim to determine the acceptability of self-collected posted capillary blood samples, and if they produce accurate and reliable HbA1c results.

Methods: We include adult studies comparing capillary blood to venous blood for measuring HbA1c . We exclude methods not suitable for postage. Electronic databases of MEDLINE, Embase, CINAHL, Web of Science, Google Scholar and OpenGrey were searched from inception to September 2021, as well as relevant conference abstracts. Two reviewers performed study selection, data extraction and risk of bias assessment independently. Narrative synthesis was performed.

Results: Our search retrieved 3747 records. Following de-duplication and screening 30 articles were included. The mean difference (MD) and limits of agreement (LoA) between capillary and venous HbA1c were smaller and narrower respectively when micro/capillary tubes (micro/cap) were used for capillary blood storage compared to dried blood spots (capDBS) (micro/cap MD range -0.4 to 1.4 mmol/mol vs. capDBS MD range -4.3 to 7.2 mmol/mol, micro/cap LoA width 2.4 to 6 mmol/mol vs. capDBS LoA width 11.7 to 16.8 mmol/mol). After using self-collection kits, 83%-96% of participants reported satisfaction, 87%-99% found it easy and 69%-94% reported they would use it again.

Conclusion: Microtubes/capillary tubes look promising as a method of self-collecting and posting capillary blood samples for the measurement of HbA1c based on the accuracy and reliability findings presented. DBS samples demonstrated comparatively poorer accuracy. Data on acceptability were limited and further research is needed.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere15033
Number of pages15
JournalDiabetic Medicine
Issue number4
Early online date17 Jan 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2023


  • accessibility of healthcare
  • capillary tubing
  • correlation studies
  • diabetes mellitus
  • dried blood spot testing
  • glycated haemoglobin A1c
  • validity of results

Cite this