Engagement with Genetic Information and Uptake of Genetic Testing: the Role of Trust and Personal Cancer History


We used national survey data to (1) determine the extent to which individuals trust the sources from which they are most likely to receive information about cancer-related genetic tests (BRCA1/2, Lynch syndrome), (2) examine how level of trust for sources of genetic information might be related to cancer-related genetic testing uptake, and (3) determine whether key factors, such as cancer history and numeracy, moderate the latter association. We used cross-sectional data from the Health Information National Trends Survey. Our study sample included individuals who responded that they had heard or read about genetic tests (n = 1117). All analyses accounted for complex survey design. Although respondents trusted information from health professionals the most, they were significantly less likely to report hearing about genetic testing from such professionals than via television (p < 0.01). Regardless of source, higher levels of trust in the information source from which participants heard about genetic tests were associated with increased odds of genetic testing uptake, particularly among those with a personal cancer history. Numeracy was not associated with genetic testing uptake. Because health professionals were among the most trusted health information sources, they may serve as important brokers of genetic testing information for those with a personal cancer history.

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This work was funded by intramural National Cancer Institute funds. The authors have no conflicts of interest. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the National Institutes of Health or any other governmental agency.

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Correspondence to Megan C. Roberts.

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This study includes the secondary data analysis of human subject research, as such informed consent was not applicable.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Roberts, M.C., Taber, J.M. & Klein, W.M. Engagement with Genetic Information and Uptake of Genetic Testing: the Role of Trust and Personal Cancer History. J Canc Educ 33, 893–900 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13187-016-1160-9

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  • Genetic testing
  • Trust
  • Genetic information