Genetic counseling following direct-to consumer genetic testing: Consumer perspectives.

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Publication Date


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Journal of genetic counseling


Direct-to-Consumer (DTC); consumer-driven genetic testing; genetic counseling; genetic counselors; genetic test results; genetic testing; personal genomic testing; genomics


As the use and scope of direct-to-consumer genetic testing (DTC GT), also becoming known as consumer-driven genetic testing, increases, consumers may seek genetic counseling to understand their results and determine healthcare implications. In this study, we interviewed individuals who sought genetic counseling after receiving DTC GT results to explore their motivations, expectations, and experiences. Participants were recruited from the Impact of Personal Genomics (PGen) Study, a longitudinal cohort study of DTC GT customers. We interviewed 15 participants (9 females, mean age = 38 years) by telephone and analyzed the double-coded transcripts using qualitative methods. Motivations for genetic counseling included family and personal health histories, concern and confusion about results, and information-seeking; of note, one-third of our interview participants had Ehlers-Danlos syndrome Type III (hypermobility type). Expectations of genetic counseling sessions were high. Participants generally saw DTC GT results as valid and potentially impactful for their healthcare, wanted more thorough explanations in "layman's terms," a pooling of their results with their family and personal health history and a "game plan." Several participants had already accessed online resources, including resources typically used by genetics clinicians. Our results point to several elements of a successful DTC GT genetic counseling session: 1) effective contracting when starting the clinic visit, especially determining motivations for genetic counseling, results that are concerning/confusing and resources already accessed; 2) ascertainment and management of expectations and clearly communicating if and why all results may not be reviewed; 3) explaining how DTC GT differs from clinical genetic testing and why additional testing may not be indicated and 4) listening to (not dismissing) patient concerns about their results. For those patients who seek genetic counseling about DTC GT results, the findings from our study can help inform case preparation and provision of genetic counseling.