Daniel Chavez-Yenter, Avery Holton, Alexis S. Vega, Ginger Zamora, Kimberly A. Kaphingst
Genetic testing (GT) has become ubiquitous in the United States, either in clinical or direct-to-consumer markets. White and English-speaking populations have primarily benefited from this new technology, leaving other groups, like Hispanic populations, behind. Explanations for this disparity has cited a lack of awareness and knowledge of genetic testing purposes. Science communication from English-language media play an important role in setting initial attitudes and influencing decision-making for audiences. However, Spanish-language media have virtually no research published on documented potential effects for GT utilization despite the continued growth of Hispanic Spanish-speaking groups in the United States. Thus, this study characterized coverage of GT from two of the most prominent US Spanish-language media outlets, Telemundo and Univision. Over a 12-year time period, we identified 235 written articles of GT, mainly focusing on forensics applications, followed by gossip and health. There were 292 sources referenced across all 235 articles drawing from governmental agencies or officials, other news agencies, and medical institutions or officials. The findings suggest that coverage of GT among Spanish-language news outlets is limited. When Spanish-language news outlets do cover GT, they focus on aspects of intrigue or entertainment more than demystifying and explaining GT. Stories tend to cite other published articles, with author attribution often missing, leading to questions of comfort of Spanish-media to cover these topics. Further, the publishing process may lead to confusion of the purpose of genetic testing for health purposes and may bias Spanish-speaking groups towards genetic testing for health purposes. Thus, reconciliation and education initiatives around genetic testing purposes are needed for Spanish-speaking communities from not only media, but also genetics providers and institutions.
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