Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Rational, emotional reasons guide genetic-testing choices

20.04.2011
UC Riverside researchers study decision-making process for using direct-to-consumer genetic tests

Consumers decide whether to use mail-in genetic tests based on both rational and emotional reasons, a finding that adds to a growing body of health-care behavior research on information seeking and avoidance, according to researchers at the University of California, Riverside.

In a study of what motivates or discourages consumers from participating in direct-to-consumer (DTC) genetic testing, UC Riverside psychologists found that potential users of the tests were influenced by perceived benefits and barriers to testing, and anticipated regret over testing versus not testing.

"We were interested in examining how people perceive DTC genetic testing and how information about the procedure might influence their interest in testing, not about the advantages or disadvantages of the testing procedure itself," said Kate Sweeny, assistant professor of psychology and lead author of "Predictors of interest in direct-to-consumer genetic testing." The paper appears in the online edition of the peer-reviewed journal Psychology & Health.

"DTC genetic testing provides a context to examine people's decisions to seek or avoid information that could be potentially life-changing, but that only requires a relatively affordable fee to acquire," she explained.

The study provides much-needed evidence to illuminate the processes that drive decisions to pursue or not pursue DTC genetic testing, and reveals how the manipulation of available information substantially affects perceptions about testing and intentions to test, co-authors Sweeny and graduate student Angela Legg concluded.

With the completion of the U.S. Human Genome Project, which mapped the genes responsible for physical and functional traits, the number of direct-to-consumer genetic tests has exploded. Hundreds of private labs offering the tests provide consumers with information about genetic health factors and ancestry after they return a saliva sample in a mail-from-home kit. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration decided earlier this year to limit the controversial tests on a case-by-case basis.

Sweeny and Angela Legg surveyed 99 volunteers about perceived benefits of genetic testing (increased knowledge of personal and family health risks), perceived barriers to testing (i.e. lack of governmental regulation, the potential misinterpretation of genetic information), anticipated regret over testing or not testing, and intention to pursue the tests.

Volunteers were randomly divided into three groups and presented with different kinds of information – either positive information about DTC genetic testing, negative information, or both positive and negative information.

Participants who received only positive information perceived the greatest benefits of DTC genetic testing, anticipated the greatest regret over missing the opportunity to test, and expressed greater intentions to pursue testing, Sweeny and Legg found. Participants who received only negative information perceived greater barriers to testing, anticipated the greatest regret over testing, and did not differ from people who received both positive and negative information in their intentions to test.

"Our findings have important implications for both predicting and influencing decisions to pursue DTC genetic testing," the researchers wrote, suggesting that "decisions regarding DTC genetic testing depend on some of the same considerations that drive other health behavior decisions. Numerous studies support the roles of perceived benefits and barriers in decisions to undertake preventative health behaviors and to undergo some types of genetic testing. Although our study is the first we know of to examine the role of anticipated regret in genetic testing decisions, anticipated regret also predicts some preventative health behaviors."

The debate over whether people should undergo genetic testing at all, and particularly DTC genetic testing, is unresolved, the researchers said, noting that critics "express great concern over the lack of counseling following testing, the potential for misinterpretation of test results and the possibility of genetic discrimination. ... We do not attempt to resolve the ethical debate over DTC genetic testing, but our findings suggest that discouraging DTC genetic testing may prove easier than encouraging people to undergo testing."

Sweeny said the research data do not endorse or warn against DTC genetic testing. "Rather, I see our findings as evidence that people who learn about the procedure seem to lean against pursuing it, even when they learn about both pros and cons of testing. I'm not saying that people should or shouldn't test; rather, people in our study seemed particularly attentive to the disadvantages of testing, such that people who learned about both pros and cons were just as (dis)interested as people who only learned about the cons."

One conclusion of the study is that decisions about DTC genetic testing are similar in some ways to other types of health decisions, for example, that perceptions of costs and benefits of the behavior play a strong role in decision-making, Sweeny said.

"Furthermore, our study adds to a relatively recent trend in research on health behavior to focus on both beliefs (i.e., the more rational aspects of decision-making) and emotions. We found that both beliefs about DTC testing and anticipated regret about testing decisions were related to intentions to test, suggesting that people are guided by both rational and emotional considerations when they make these decisions."

The study received no grant funding for the project or either of the authors.

Bettye Miller | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www. ucr.edu

Further reports about: DTC Human Genome Project genetic testing genetic tests

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht A new technique isolates neuronal activity during memory consolidation
22.06.2017 | Spanish National Research Council (CSIC)

nachricht CWRU researchers find a chemical solution to shrink digital data storage
22.06.2017 | Case Western Reserve University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

Im Focus: Optoelectronic Inline Measurement – Accurate to the Nanometer

Germany counts high-precision manufacturing processes among its advantages as a location. It’s not just the aerospace and automotive industries that require almost waste-free, high-precision manufacturing to provide an efficient way of testing the shape and orientation tolerances of products. Since current inline measurement technology not yet provides the required accuracy, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is collaborating with four renowned industry partners in the INSPIRE project to develop inline sensors with a new accuracy class. Funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the project is scheduled to run until the end of 2019.

New Manufacturing Technologies for New Products

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A new technique isolates neuronal activity during memory consolidation

22.06.2017 | Life Sciences

Plant inspiration could lead to flexible electronics

22.06.2017 | Materials Sciences

A rhodium-based catalyst for making organosilicon using less precious metal

22.06.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>