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NIH-led study finds genetic test results do not trigger increased use of health services
Date:5/17/2012

People have increasing opportunities to participate in genetic testing that can indicate their range of risk for developing a disease. Receiving these results does not appreciably drive up or diminish test recipients' demand for potentially costly follow-up health services, according to a study performed by researchers at the National Institutes of Health and colleagues at other institutions.

The study in the May 17, 2012 early online issue of Genetics in Medicine was done by investigators with the Multiplex Initiative, a multi-center collaborative initiative involving investigators from the National Institutes of Health's Intramural Research Program, Group Health Cooperative in Seattle, and the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit.

The tests are available from a growing number of commercial producers, and health care providers have been uncertain whether people who received information only about risk would follow up by demanding diagnostic testing to monitor for predicted illnesses.

The study is the first to use electronic health records -- rather than self-reported behavior -- to measure the impact of genetic testing on the subsequent consumption of health services by commercially insured, healthy adults. Self reports, which can be affected by memory lapses and other problems, tend to be less accurate.

"We need to understand the impact of genomic discoveries on the health care system if these powerful technologies are going to improve human health," said Dan Kastner, M.D., Ph.D., scientific director and head of the National Human Genome Research Institute's (NHGRI) Division of Intramural Research. "We are still learning how to integrate new genomic discoveries into clinical care effectively and efficiently."

"There are a lot of unanswered questions about how genetic test results can be used to guide people towards making positive lifestyle and health behavior changes," said Colleen McBride, Ph.D., chief o
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Contact: Raymond MacDougall
macdougallr@mail.nih.gov
301-402-0911
NIH/National Human Genome Research Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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