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Assessing Genetic Literacy Awareness and Knowledge Gaps in the US Population: Results from the Health Information National Trends Survey

Authors
  • Krakow, Melinda
  • Ratcliff, Chelsea L.
  • Hesse, Bradford W.
  • Greenberg-Worisek, Alexandra J.
Type
Published Article
Journal
Public Health Genomics
Publisher
S. Karger AG
Publication Date
May 31, 2018
Volume
20
Issue
6
Pages
343–348
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1159/000489117
PMID: 29852491
Source
Karger
Keywords
License
Green
External links

Abstract

Background/Aims: Public understanding of the role of genetics in disease risk is key to appropriate disease prevention and detection. This study assessed the current extent of awareness and use of genetic testing in the US population. Additionally, the study identified characteristics of subgroups more likely to be at risk for low genetic literacy. Methods: The study used data from the National Cancer Institute’s 2017 Health Information National Trends Survey, including measures of genetic testing awareness, genetic testing applications and genetic testing usage. Multivariable logistic regression models estimated associations between sociodemographics, genetic testing awareness, and genetic testing use. Results: Fifty-seven percent of respondents were aware of genetic tests. Testing awareness differed by age, household income, and race/ethnicity. Most participants had heard of using tests to determine personal disease risk (82.58%) or inherited disease risk in children (81.41%), but less were familiar with determining treatment (38.29%) or drug efficacy (40.76%). Among those with genetic testing awareness, actual testing uptake was low. Conclusions: A large portion of the general public lacks genetic testing awareness and may benefit from educational campaigns. As precision medicine expands, increasing public awareness about genetic testing applications for disease prevention and treatment will be important to support population health.

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