Public reaction to direct-to-consumer online genetic tests: Comparing attitudes, trust and intentions across commercial and conventional providers

Christine Critchley, Dianne Nicol, Margaret Otlowski, Don Chalmers

The success of personalised medicine depends upon the public’s embracing genetic tests. Tests that claim to predict an individual’s future health can now be accessed via online companies outside of conventional health regulations. This research assessed the extent to which the public embrace direct-to-consumer (DTC) genetic tests relative to those obtained by a conventional medical practitioner (MP). It also examined the reasons for differences across providers using a randomised experimental telephone survey of 1000 Australians. Results suggest that people were significantly less likely to approve of, and order a DTC genetic test administered by a company compared to a MP because they were less trusting of companies’ being able to protect their privacy and provide them with access to genetic expertise and counselling. Markets for DTC genetic tests provided by companies would therefore significantly increase if trust in privacy protection and access to expertise are enhanced through regulation.

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