Online Program

Reactions to mock genetic tests predict consumer health behaviors in response to their own genetic test results

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

David Kaufman, Ph.D., Genetics and Public Policy Center, Johns Hopkins University, Washington, DC
Clara Chen, MHS, Data Coordinating Center, Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, MA
Sarah S. Kalia, ScM, CGC, Division of Genetics, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA
Robert C. Green, MD, MPH, Division of Genetics, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA
J. Scott Roberts, PhD, Department of Health Behavior and Health Education, University of Michigan School of Public Health, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109, MI
Analyzing the factors that shape healthcare decisions made by customers of consumer genetic testing companies may help to understand these choices. To this end, the PGen Study surveyed customers of two consumer genetics companies, once before they received their results (n=1740), and again 2 weeks (n=1104) and 6 months (n=848) after results were returned. The 2-week survey displayed mock results depicting a woman with increased Alzheimer's risk, and a man with lower-than-average diabetes risk, and asked participants what actions they would recommend in response. Adjusting for demographics, company used, and worry about their own risk of disease, people recommending that the man with low diabetes risk discuss the results with a doctor (OR=1.5, 1.1-2.1, p=0.006) or check his blood sugar (OR=1.5, 1.4-1.9, p=0.007) were more likely to report on the 6-month survey that they had changed at least one of following: diet, exercise, vitamin and supplement use, or aspirin use. Conversely, people who said the woman (OR 0.22, 0.08-0.67, p=0.005) and man (OR=0.5, 0.18-0.85, p=0.02) should do nothing were less likely to have changed a health behavior. Consumers who said the woman with high Alzheimer's risk should consult a doctor (OR=1.8, 0.99-3.5, p=0.05) or do nothing (OR=0.07, 0.1-0.58, p=0.01) were respectively more and less likely on the 6 month survey to report that they had discussed their results with a healthcare professional. These data suggest that presenting people with a small number of mock test results could help to predict their subsequent reactions to receiving their own genetic test results

Learning Areas:

Clinical medicine applied in public health
Communication and informatics
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe how people's interpretation of two standardized mock genetic test results served as a strong predictor for health behaviors they took over the next 6 months in response to their own consumer genetic tests, and discuss the implications for presenting and helping people interpret genetic information.

Keyword(s): Genetics, Risk Communication

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been PI of one grant on direct to consumer genetic testing, two grants focusing on the return of individual genetic results to research participants, and have served as an advisor on the PGen project which this paper comes out of.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.