Madison S. Miura, Sabrina A. Suckiel, Hetanshi Naik, Emily R. Soper, Noura S. Abul-Husn
Elective genetic testing (EGT) to identify disease risk in individuals who may or may not meet clinical criteria for testing is increasingly being offered in clinical practice. However, little is known about how EGT is currently implemented and how genetics professionals perceive this type of testing. We conducted a mixed-methods survey study to evaluate genetics professionals' perspectives and attitudes about EGT and describe the current landscape of EGT practices in the United States (U.S.) and Canada. Six clinical geneticists and 131 genetic counselors responded to the online survey, among whom 44% reported offering EGT in their practice. Over 84% of survey respondents agreed that EGT may improve health outcomes and understanding of genotype–phenotype correlations, and 85% agreed that potential risks include result misinterpretation and contribution to economic health disparities. Though most respondents felt comfortable providing pretest (77%) and post-test (86%) counseling for EGT, lack of provider resources (such as time and personnel) and prioritization of diagnostic testing were cited most frequently in free-text responses as reasons for not offering EGT. Of those offering EGT, 88% reported positive overall experiences. Qualitative analysis of open-ended questions identified benefits of EGT as expanding access to genetic testing, providing potential health benefits, and providing psychological benefits for patients. Disadvantages included prohibitive costs, limited clinical utility, and strain on resources. Overall, we found that genetics providers perceive both potential benefits and harms of EGT and that those offering this testing had generally positive experiences, although ethical reservations and practical limitations exist.
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