Most patients want physician guidance on genetic testing

Results from a survey of the American public indicated that clinicians should be involved in analyzing genetic test results.

The survey, which included a nationally representative sample of 2,100 adults, was administered by the research firm YouGov in January 2011.

Participants were asked to imagine themselves at increased genetic risk for one of three randomly assigned conditions: CVD, Alzheimer’s disease or colon cancer. Each participant then responded to 55 questions. The survey assessed participants’ views on direct-to-consumer genetic testing, federal spending for genetic research and the importance of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008.

“On all three policy issues, gender and political party affiliation were statistically significantly associated with respondents’ views, whereas race/ethnicity and education were less consistently associated with policy opinions,” the researchers wrote.

Sixty-five percent of respondents indicated that clinicians should be involved in explaining the results of direct-to-consumer genetic testing; 9% desired no clinician involvement and 26% did not offer an opinion.

Fifty-seven percent of respondents believe the federal government should increase funding for genetic research, while 27% said spending should not change and 15% said it should be reduced.

The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 was deemed “important” by 82% of responders.

Rene Almeling, PhD

Rene Almeling

“Medical journals have published many editorials expressing concerns about companies that offer genetic tests directly to consumers,” researcher Rene Almeling, PhD, sociologist at Yale University, said in a press release. “… In the ongoing debates over policy issues in genetics, it’s important to keep in mind the views of those most affected by such debates. These results are useful for scientists designing studies, clinicians working with patients, federal agencies setting budget priorities and legislators designing regulations.”

Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.