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Study finds health professionals, public unprepared for genomic medicine
Date:3/18/2008

ssary to obtain and interpret family histories that might detect disease patterns that merit a referral for genetic testing or specialty consultation.

Primary care clinicians are on the front lines of patient care and they are going to need to be prepared to incorporate genetics into their practices, Scheuner said. Training and educating the healthcare workforce about the role of genetics in their clinical practice and increasing the size of the genetics specialty workforce are potential solutions to barriers we identified.

While consumers report having unclear notions about the value of genetic testing for common chronic diseases, they were interested in the prospect that the tests might help identify those people who are at greater risk for chronic illnesses that are preventable.

However, consumers are worried about the prospect of adverse consequences to genetic testing -- particularly loss of privacy and discrimination by health insurers or employers among those found to be predisposed to disease, according to the study. Despite this concern, researchers found there have been no well-documented cases of health insurers asking for or using presymptomatic genetic test results to define eligibility for coverage.

Researchers also found little research describing health outcomes associated with genetic testing for common chronic diseases. Most of the research to date has focused on patients well-being after genetic testing, not on whether the testing prevented disease, changed treatment or extended lives. Well-designed studies that evaluate impacts on death and illness will be necessary to estimate the value that genetic tests add to health services delivery.

Researchers also found that scant research has been done to determine what might be the best system for providing genetic services for chronic adult illnesses.

Several studies in the United Kingdom found that using a nurse geneticist incorporated into a p
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Contact: Warren Robak
robak@rand.org
310-451-6913
RAND Corporation
Source:Eurekalert

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