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      Direct-to-Consumer Genetic Testing and Personal Genomics Services: A Review of Recent Empirical Studies

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      Current Genetic Medicine Reports

      Springer Science and Business Media LLC

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          Abstract

          Direct-to-consumer genetic testing (DTC-GT) has sparked much controversy and undergone dramatic changes in its brief history. Debates over appropriate health policies regarding DTC-GT would benefit from empirical research on its benefits, harms, and limitations. We review the recent literature (2011-present) and summarize findings across (1) content analyses of DTC-GT websites, (2) studies of consumer perspectives and experiences, and (3) surveys of relevant health care providers. Findings suggest that neither the health benefits envisioned by DTC-GT proponents (e.g., significant improvements in positive health behaviors) nor the worst fears expressed by its critics (e.g., catastrophic psychological distress and misunderstanding of test results, undue burden on the health care system) have materialized to date. However, research in this area is in its early stages and possesses numerous key limitations. We note needs for future studies to illuminate the impact of DTC-GT and thereby guide practice and policy regarding this rapidly evolving approach to personal genomics.

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          Most cited references 54

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          An unwelcome side effect of direct-to-consumer personal genome testing: raiding the medical commons.

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            Risky business: risk perception and the use of medical services among customers of DTC personal genetic testing.

            Direct-to-consumer genetic testing has generated speculation about how customers will interpret results and how these interpretations will influence healthcare use and behavior; however, few empirical data on these topics exist. We conducted an online survey of DTC customers of 23andMe, deCODEme, and Navigenics to begin to address these questions. Random samples of U.S. DTC customers were invited to participate. Survey topics included demographics, perceptions of two sample DTC results, and health behaviors following DTC testing. Of 3,167 DTC customers invited, 33% (n = 1,048) completed the survey. Forty-three percent of respondents had sought additional information about a health condition tested; 28% had discussed their results with a healthcare professional; and 9% had followed up with additional lab tests. Sixteen percent of respondents had changed a medication or supplement regimen, and one-third said they were being more careful about their diet. Many of these health-related behaviors were significantly associated with responses to a question that asked how participants would perceive their colon cancer risk (as low, moderate, or high) if they received a test result showing an 11% lifetime risk, as compared to 5% risk in the general population. Respondents who would consider themselves to be at high risk for colon cancer were significantly more likely to have sought information about a disease (p = 0.03), discussed results with a physician (p = 0.05), changed their diet (p = 0.02), and started exercising more (p = 0.01). Participants' personal health contexts--including personal and family history of disease and quality of self-perceived health--were also associated with health-related behaviors after testing. Subjective interpretations of genetic risk data and personal context appear to be related to health behaviors among DTC customers. Sharing DTC test results with healthcare professionals may add perceived utility to the tests.
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              Motivations and perceptions of early adopters of personalized genomics: perspectives from research participants.

              To predict the potential public health impact of personal genomics, empirical research on public perceptions of these services is needed. In this study, 'early adopters' of personal genomics were surveyed to assess their motivations, perceptions and intentions. Participants were recruited from everyone who registered to attend an enrollment event for the Coriell Personalized Medicine Collaborative, a United States-based (Camden, N.J.) research study of the utility of personalized medicine, between March 31, 2009 and April 1, 2010 (n = 369). Participants completed an Internet-based survey about their motivations, awareness of personalized medicine, perceptions of study risks and benefits, and intentions to share results with health care providers. Respondents were motivated to participate for their own curiosity and to find out their disease risk to improve their health. Fewer than 10% expressed deterministic perspectives about genetic risk, but 32% had misperceptions about the research study or personal genomic testing. Most respondents perceived the study to have health-related benefits. Nearly all (92%) intended to share their results with physicians, primarily to request specific medical recommendations. Early adopters of personal genomics are prospectively enthusiastic about using genomic profiling information to improve their health, in close consultation with their physicians. This suggests that early users (i.e. through direct-to-consumer companies or research) may follow up with the health care system. Further research should address whether intentions to seek care match actual behaviors. Copyright © 2011 S. Karger AG, Basel.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Current Genetic Medicine Reports
                Curr Genet Med Rep
                Springer Science and Business Media LLC
                2167-4876
                September 2013
                July 12 2013
                September 2013
                : 1
                : 3
                : 182-200
                Article
                10.1007/s40142-013-0018-2
                3777821
                24058877
                © 2013

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