Gynecologists' training, knowledge, and experiences in genetics: a survey

Obstet Gynecol. 2000 Mar;95(3):421-4. doi: 10.1016/s0029-7844(99)00581-5.


Objective: To explore gynecologists' knowledge, training, and practice experience with genetic screening and DNA-based testing.

Methods: A questionnaire survey was sent to 1,248 ACOG Fellows, of whom 564 (45%) responded. One hundred thirty-four respondents (24%) reported that they do not order DNA-based tests or take family histories to screen for heritable diseases or disorders. Results from the 428 respondents who provide genetic screening services are reported.

Results: Most physicians (90%) knew that genetic tests are most informative when used in conjunction with family histories. Gynecologists gave more correct responses regarding genetic testing for breast and ovarian cancers than for colon cancer and other adult-onset diseases. Sixty-five percent of the respondents had not received formal training in DNA-based testing in gynecologic practice. Older physicians were less likely to have had training. Younger physicians generally gave more correct responses on the knowledge portion of the survey (r = -.165, P < .01). Physicians who had formal training in genetics gave more correct answers. Physicians who order DNA-based tests scored higher than those who do not and had no formal training, but not higher than those who had formal training and do not order DNA-based tests.

Conclusion: Gynecologists were more knowledgeable about genetic issues pertaining to breast and ovarian cancer than to other cancers or certain adult-onset disorders. Training appeared to increase knowledge. Increased training and affiliation with genetic specialists and others could improve gynecologists' ability to use genetic screening in clinical practice.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics
  • Clinical Competence*
  • Female
  • Genetics, Medical* / education
  • Gynecology* / education
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged