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Survey Sees Genetic Literacy on the Rise, Though Further Education Needed

Using surveys designed to test genetic literacy, a team from the National Human Genome Research Institute documents an apparent rise in individuals' familiarity, knowledge, and skill surrounding genetic terms and concepts. As they report in the American Journal of Human Genetics, the researchers surveyed 2,050 individuals from the general population and 2,023 participants in large-scale genetic research studies, comparing their survey responses to those from a 2013 survey. While individuals in the general population were significantly more familiar and knowledgeable than their 2013 counterparts, the authors also found a significant uptick in genetic knowledge, familiarity, and skills in the present-day genetic study participants relative to the general population. "The results suggest that genetic literacy is improving over time, with room for improvement," they write. "We conclude that educational interventions are needed to ensure familiarity with and comprehension of basic genetic concepts and suggest further exploration of the impact of genetic research participation on genetic literacy to determine mechanisms for potential interventions."