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Survey: Vets Supportive of Genetic Cohort Study

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – A large number of US military veterans may be likely to support and participate in a large cohort genetic study conducted through the Department of Veterans Affairs, according to a new survey conducted by the Genetics and Public Policy Center.

The VA has proposed establishing a database of genetic information from analyzing patients' DNA from blood samples and linking it to a variety of information in the participants' electronic health records.

According to the GPPC survey, 71 percent of respondents said that they would "definitely or probably serve as a research subject if asked," and 84 percent believed that the database would "lead to improved treatments, cures, or lives saved for veterans."

GPPC also found that 83 percent of the survey's respondents believed that such a database should "definitely" or "probably" be created.

The VA created the Genomic Medicine Program in 2006 to study the use of genetic information to improve the health of veterans. According to GPPC, the VA believes that the genetic database it has proposed "would be a powerful tool for researchers seeking links between genes, environmental factors, and health outcomes."

Privacy protection was important to nearly all the veterans surveyed, and 98 percent of them said it would be important for the VA to develop safeguards to protect their information, and three out of four said that a key to the database should be kept if the veterans' medical information were to be updated. Such a key also would allow participants to learn about the results of research using their information.

Nine out of 10 of the veterans also said they would like to know their individual research results.