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

f NHGRI's Social and Behavioral Research Branch. "This study goes a long way towards bringing data to these debates and shows that people are not likely to make inappropriate demands of health delivery systems if they are properly informed about the limitations of genetic tests."

Genetic tests, such as those used in this study, can detect common variants of genes associated with modest alterations in the chances of developing particular diseases. The term multiplex refers to simultaneously performing multiple genetic tests on a single blood sample.

The study included 217 healthy people between the ages of 25 and 40 who elected to participate in genetic susceptibility testing offered by their health plan. The researchers analyzed health care usage by the participants in the 12 months before genetic testing and the 12 months following the testing. They also compared the test group's behavior with a group of about 400 similar plan members who declined the testing offer.

The researchers counted the number of physician visits and laboratory tests or procedures the people received, particularly those services associated with four of the eight conditions tested by the multiplex panel. Most of the procedures or screening tests that were counted are not among those currently recommended for people in this age group who don't have symptoms. The researchers found that participants in genetic testing did not change their overall use of health care services compared with those not tested.

All of the individuals who elected to undergo the multiplex test carried at least one at-risk genetic marker, with the majority carrying an average of nine at-risk variants. The tests performed for the Multiplex Initiative include a set of genetic variants reliably associated with an increase in disease risk and for which some corrective health behavior has been shown to prevent illness.

Having a risk version of one of the 15 genes on the multiple
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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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