In a guest post at Genomes Unzipped, Cardiff University PhD student Teresa Finlay says that the debate over the utility and safety of direct-to-consumer genetic testing shows how important it is to have good research on the "motivations and actions" of potential customers. Research in this area has been limited, and has mostly been done in the US, but the UK has a very different kind of healthcare system and will face unique problems as more people start to try DTC genetic testing, Finlay says. The only survey ever done of UK residents on the subject of DTC testing was in 2010, and showed that 13 percent of participants were aware such testing existed, she adds.
Finlay proposes to conduct a research project on the use of personal genomic susceptibility testing in the UK, and on the views of medical professionals who will have to deal with patients coming to them for interpretations of the results. "This project aims to establish why UK residents buy these tests, how they understand their results and what impact they have on families," Finlay says. "The research will also establish what support geneticists offer, and what they think the impact of these tests is likely to be on NHS services."