Genetic Counseling

School of Health and Human Sciences

Whitney CogswellNorth Carolina Primary Care Providers Awareness, Perceptions, Experience and use of Direct-To-Consumer Genetic Tests
Capstone Project Committee: 
Carol Christianson, MS, CGC, Roland Deutsch, PhD (Statistical Consultant), Sonka Eubanks, MS, CGC, Sat Gupta, PhD (Statistical Consultant), Karen Potter Powell, MS, CGC
Direct-to-consumer (DTC) genetic testing is a new development that offers consumers the opportunity to purchase genetic testing over the internet without consulting a health care professional. Little is known about primary care providers’ attitudes about DTC testing or their interactions with patients who have had or are considering DTC genetic testing. The goal of this study was to explore physician awareness, experience with patients, opinions, and preparedness surrounding DTC genetic testing to ascertain their educational needs. Methods: A survey was created consisting of 28 multiple choice and 2 scalable questions. The survey was mailed to 2,402 internists and family practice physicians on membership lists created by the North Carolina Medical Society. The survey was followed up by a reminder postcard and a reminder survey at three week intervals.   Results: The study found that 38.5% of responding physicians were aware of DTC genetic testing. Of these, 19.5% had a patient either ask a question about or bring in results from DTC genetic testing. Among physicians who were aware, 41.4% think that testing is clinically useful. Additionally, 14.5% felt prepared to answer questions about DTC genetic testing, and 73.4% desired to learn more. Conclusions: Less than half of NC PCPs were aware of DTC genetic testing, and very few have had experience with it during patient care. NC PCPs are unsure of the clinical utility of DTC genetic testing and would find medical management guidelines concerning DTC genetic testing useful. Additionally, while many physicians felt they were prepared to answer questions about DTC genetic testing, they still desire to learn more about it.
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