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Study Uncovers Racial, Ethnic Disparities in Genomic Knowledge, Trust of Medical Researchers

There are large differences in the understanding of genomics and trust in researchers among dilated cardiomyopathy patients of varying racial and ethnic backgrounds, according to a new study appearing in JAMA Cardiology this week. The findings suggest that steps should be taken to ensure that advances in genetic-based medicine are tested and implemented equitably across diverse patient populations. Given that mortality rates from cardiovascular disease are higher in patients from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, a team led by scientists from Ohio State University set out to determine whether low levels of trust in medical researchers and knowledge of genomic sequencing affect participation in scientific studies that could benefit these individuals. To do so, they conducted a cross-sectional study involving more than 1,000 idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy patients enrolled in heart failure programs between mid-2016 and early 2020. The investigators find that genome sequencing knowledge level was lower in Hispanic and non-Hispanic Black patients versus non-Hispanic white patients. Trust in medical researchers was lowest in non-Hispanic Black patients, while higher trust levels were associated with a greater knowledge of genome sequencing within all groups. "Findings from this study can inform future studies that aim to enhance the uptake of genomic knowledge and level of trust in medical researchers," the study's authors write.