Trends and Gaps in Awareness of Direct-to-Consumer Genetic Tests From 2007 to 2014


      Direct-to-consumer genetic tests for inherited disease risks have gained recent approvals from the Food and Drug Administration, and interest in these tests has continued to grow. Broad use of these tests coupled with planning and discussion with health providers regarding genetic risks and potential protective behavior changes have been proposed as preventive tools to reduce health disparities and improve equity in health outcomes. However, awareness of direct-to-consumer genetic testing has historically demonstrated differences by education, income, and race; these disparities could jeopardize potential benefits by limiting access and use.


      The national survey data from the Health Information National Trends Survey was analyzed to understand how overall awareness of direct-to-consumer genetic testing and disparities in awareness across sociodemographic groups have changed since 2007.


      The findings showed persistent disparities, as well as a widening gap in awareness between Hispanics and non-Hispanic whites (OR2007 =1.52, OR2014 =0.58, pchange =0.0056), despite overall increases in awareness over time.


      Given these findings, policies regulating direct-to-consumer genetic tests should prioritize equitable distribution of benefits by including provisions that counteract prevailing disparities in awareness.
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