Journal of Genetic Counseling

, Volume 21, Issue 1, pp 113–126 | Cite as

Primary Care Physicians’ Awareness, Experience and Opinions of Direct-to-Consumer Genetic Testing

  • Karen P. Powell
  • Whitney A. Cogswell
  • Carol A. Christianson
  • Gaurav Dave
  • Amit Verma
  • Sonja Eubanks
  • Vincent C. Henrich
Original Research


The purpose of this study was to assess primary care physicians’ awareness, experience, opinions and preparedness to answer patients’ questions regarding direct-to-consumer (DTC) genetic testing. An anonymous survey was mailed to 2,402 family and internal medicine providers in North Carolina. Of the 382 respondents, 38.7% (n = 148) were aware of and 15% (n = 59) felt prepared to answer questions about DTC genetic tests. Respondents aged 50 or older were more likely to be aware of DTC genetic testing than those less than 40 years old (OR = 2.42). Male providers were more likely to feel prepared to answer questions than female providers (OR = 2.65). Among respondents who reportedly were aware, family practitioners were more likely than internists (OR = 3.30) to think DTC testing was clinically useful, and 18.9% had patients ask questions or bring in test results. The small percent of physicians who were aware of DTC genetic testing or felt prepared to answer questions about it suggests that education of providers will be necessary if testing becomes more widespread.


Direct-to-consumer Genetic testing Primary care providers Genetic susceptibility Personalized medicine Genetics in primary care 



Funding for this project has been provided in part from the National Society of Genetic Counselors’ Public Health Special Interest Group and the Graduate Student Association of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Thank you to Theresa Milhalik, MS for her assistance in survey distribution and data collection.


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Copyright information

© National Society of Genetic Counselors, Inc. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Karen P. Powell
    • 1
  • Whitney A. Cogswell
    • 2
  • Carol A. Christianson
    • 1
  • Gaurav Dave
    • 3
  • Amit Verma
    • 3
  • Sonja Eubanks
    • 2
  • Vincent C. Henrich
    • 1
  1. 1.Center for Biotechnology, Genomics & Health ResearchThe University of North Carolina at GreensboroGreensboroUSA
  2. 2.The Genetic Counseling ProgramThe University of North Carolina at GreensboroGreensboroUSA
  3. 3.Center for Social, Community and Health Research and EvaluationThe University of North Carolina at GreensboroGreensboroUSA

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