Purpose: To document primary care physicians' utilization and perceptions of genetics services.
Methods: A randomized survey of physicians in the Pacific Northwest.
Results: The greatest factor prompting a genetics referral was the patient's interest in the evaluation, and the most common reason not to obtain a consultation was the perception that it was of no benefit to the patient. Genetics consultation was rarely sought for a family history of cancer or for deafness, polycystic kidney disease, or congenital heart disease. Even when uncertain about relative risk, physicians usually counseled a patient themselves rather than referring to a specialist.
Conclusion: Primary care physicians need more education about the genetic component of many diseases to provide directly and to refer appropriately for genetics services.