NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Americans are still very much in the toe-dipping phase when it comes to taking genetic tests, and are concerned about privacy and learning something frightening about themselves, according to a newly released survey from Burrill & Company and ChangeWage Research.
In a survey the two firms conducted of 550 “upscale business professionals” in late May about attitudes regarding several health-related issues, including personal genetic tests, respondents said that “doctors are still the most important source of information for consumers on genetic testing,” Burrill & Co. CEO G. Steven Burrill said in a statement.
"While consumers are taking a more active role in their own healthcare, doctors remain the gatekeepers. Consumers are turning to them for guidance on genetic tests," Burrill added.
The surveyors found that only five percent of consumers said that they were “very likely” to take a disease-specific genetic test in the next few years, and 15 percent said they would be “likely” to take one.
A total of 35 percent said that they would not submit to genetic tests, with 14 percent citing concerns about privacy, 5 percent saying they would not want to know about the results of their tests, and 16 percent saying both reasons would compel them to avoid genetic tests.
Although more than 50 percent of those who responded said that they are concerned about getting cancer or heart disease, only 4 percent of those said they had taken a genetic test for a particular disease. Two-thirds of those who did have a genetic test were advised to do so by a doctor.
The respondents had about the same comfort level of sharing genetic information with their spouses or partners as with their doctors, 72 percent and 71 percent respectively.
Only 22 percent of those who responded were comfortable with sharing results from genetic tests with institutions for research purposes, and almost none would give up that information to health insurance companies (3 percent), and even less to employers (2 percent) and prospective employers (1 percent).
From these findings, Burrill & Co. concluded that “makers of these tests might have more success penetrating the market by working through doctors rather than trying to make the case for their products directly to the consumer.”
The company said “The Personalized Medicine and Wellness Survey” is the first of a three-part study on the subject that will be released sometime this summer.