Journal of Genetic Counseling

, Volume 16, Issue 3, pp 289–298

Picking a Frame for Communicating About Genetics: Stigmas or Challenges


    • Department of Communication StudiesUniversity of Texas, Austin
Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s10897-006-9075-y

Cite this article as:
Smith, R.A. J Genet Counsel (2007) 16: 289. doi:10.1007/s10897-006-9075-y

Currently, one may describe awareness of genomics as limited, but growing in the US. Although awareness is limited, the US public expresses great concern that genomics could result in stigmatization and discrimination (Reproductive genetic testing: What America thinks. Washington, DC: Genetics and Public Policy Center, 2004). This situation provides a rare opportunity to think carefully about how to design communication to a general public in ways that galvanize positive sentiments around genomics instead of stimulate stigmas. This manuscript provides a synthesis of communication theories relevant to framing genomics in stigma and challenge formats, the details necessary to understand what such messages look like, and an illustration of the two frames. Many people in different roles are engaging in these conversations in many different contexts. Through the growing exposure and interest in genomics, the opportunity to proactively script messages to form beliefs and attitudes about genomics, instead of managing pre-existing ones, may disappear quickly.


communication frames stigma challenge genetic testing genomics

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007