Public Attitudes Toward Genetic Risk Testing and Its Role in Healthcare

Holly Etchegary


Personalized Medicine. 2014;11(5):509-522. 

In This Article

Methodological Approach

The literature on public attitudes about genetics is a large and heterogeneous body of work.[5] The intent for this narrative review was to provide a broad overview highlighting trends and areas of interest for future research. Thus, there was no single, focused research question that guided the review. Rather, the focus of eligible articles was large and included knowledge and attitudes toward genetics research, biobanking, genetic testing for rare variants, DTC testing, and whether the information derived from genetic testing impacted behavior. These foci were chosen based on the author's knowledge of the area and following prior reviews[5,17–18] as current and/or growing trends in the literature. With an emphasis on articles published in the last decade, both original research and review articles were included, while opinion pieces and commentaries were excluded. Further, both qualitative and quantitative empirical research studies were eligible for this synthesis.

The databases Pubmed, PsychInfo, Cochrane Library and Medline were searched for articles with keyword combinations of 'genetic', 'genetic testing', 'attitude', 'public' and 'opinion.' Additional articles were identified from the reference lists of those articles found through the database search, as well as from previous review articles (see Table 1). Over 150 articles were deemed relevant. As the intent for this paper was to provide a broad overview of trends in the area and not a systematic review, the author included those papers that themselves were reviews and presented good overviews of public attitudes (Table 1). From the author's assessment, some original research papers (Table 2) that demonstrated a broad array of topic foci and methodologies were also included in order to provide an overview of the large body of research in this area. The final result provides a synthetic perspective on a vast and heterogeneous literature, concluding with suggestions for future research.