Australians’ perspectives on support around use of personal genomic testing: Findings from the Genioz study

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Personal genomic testing using direct-to-consumer and consumer-directed models, with or without involvement of healthcare providers, is increasing internationally, including in Australia. This study forms a sub-set of the Genioz study – Genomics: National Insights of Australians. We aimed to explore Australians’ experiences with these types of tests, especially online DNA tests, and their views regarding whom they would seek support from around understanding test results. The study used a mixed methods approach, employing an exploratory quantitative online survey and follow-up qualitative semi-structured interviews. Between May 2016 and May 2017, 2841 Australians responded to the survey. Interviews were conducted with 63 purposively sampled respondents, including 45 who had a genetic test and 18 who had not. Of 571 respondents who had any type of genetic test, 322 had a personal genomic test using criteria defined by the researchers. Testing for ancestry/genealogy was the most common, reported by 267 participants, reflecting the increased advertising of these tests in Australia. Some respondents described downloading their raw data for further interpretation through third party websites for genealogical as well as health related information. Carrier testing, testing for serious and preventable conditions and nutrition and/or wellness were the most common health related tests reported by respondents. Participants generally preferred to seek support from general practitioners (GPs), medical specialists with relevant expertise and independent genetics specialists, although another important preference for non-health information was online forums and networks. There was less preference for seeking support from employees associated with the testing companies. Generally, of those who had a health related PGT, the most common actions were seeking medical advice or doing nothing with the information, while more of those who had a personal genomic test for nutrition and/or wellness sought advice from complementary/alternative health practitioners (eg naturopaths) and integrative GPs, and 60% reported they had changed their diet. As awareness of personal genomic testing increases, publicly funded clinical genetics services may be less inclined to discuss results from personal genomic testing. Genetic counsellors could play an important role in providing this support, both pre-test and post-test, through opportunities for private practice but independent from testing companies.




Metcalfe, S. A., Hickerton, C., Savard, J., Stackpoole, E., Tytherleigh, R., Tutty, E., … Gaff, C. (2019). Australians’ perspectives on support around use of personal genomic testing: Findings from the Genioz study. European Journal of Medical Genetics, 62(5), 290–299.

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