Genealogists have access to many different direct-to-consumer genetic testing kits. Pick the company you like best, send out a DNA sample, and you might learn about something in your genes that could increase the risk of developing a certain disease (or passing that disease onto your child). Don’t be surprised if your doctor doesn’t care about the results of a mail-ordered DNA test.
People take a direct-to-consumer DNA test because they want to find out something about their genetic makeup. Paternity tests can reveal who a person’s father is. Carrier tests can let a couple know if either of them carry a gene that can pass a disease onto their child. There are genetic test kits that can reveal whether or not a person carries the BRCA1 or BRAC2 genes (which increase a person’s risk of developing breast cancer).
All of these tests can provide information that may be useful for genealogists who are putting together their medical family trees. It can be helpful to know what diseases, conditions, or genetic mutations run in your family. This knowledge can sometimes lead a person to see a doctor for additional assessment, potential treatment options, and suggestions about beneficial lifestyle changes.
Don’t be surprised if your doctor is not interested in seeing the results of your direct-to-consumer DNA test. A survey of physicians found that many of them are not embracing genetic testing. The survey was done by email and included 1,609 United States physicians. That group includes specialists (from cardiology to neurology) and family physicians.
The survey was conducted by STAT by Sermo, which is a social network site that has 1.8 million health care professional members. 27% of the group said they had recommended that their patients get their genome sequenced. The larger part of the group – 73% – said they had not recommended that patients get their genome sequenced.
Why? It appears that the majority of physicians in the survey (74%) felt that a family medical history is more informative for diagnosing and treating patients than genome sequencing was. Doctors who participated in the survey were asked why they do not recommend genome sequencing to their patients.
Some doctors said that they felt that genome sequencing “was not evidence-based”. Others did not feel the information revealed by genome sequencing provided any clinical benefit. Some responded by saying that genome sequence wasn’t any good “if you can’t change anything”. There were also responses that expressed concerns about the expenses and lack of insurance reimbursement.
The same survey asked doctors if a patient brought the results of a DNA test to them – would the doctor help the patient understand the results? 37% of doctors said that they would not attempt to help explain the results of a direct-to-consumer DNA test to their patient.
Image by IImicrofono Oggiono on Flickr.
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