Objective: To describe the impact on patients and physicians at a managed care organization (MCO) of a direct-to-consumer advertising (DTC-ad) campaign concerning testing for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes.
Study design: Observational study.
Methods: In 2003, we mailed a 30-item questionnaire to 750 randomly chosen female members of Kaiser Permanente Colorado (KPCO) aged 25 to 54 years, and 100 female KPCO members with a history of breast cancer genetic referral. We mailed a 7-item questionnaire to 180 randomly chosen KPCO primary care providers.
Results: Of 394 patient respondents, 245 (62%) reported exposure to the DTC-ad of whom 63% reported that the DTC-ad caused no anxiety at all. A high level of perceived breast cancer risk and being of Hispanic ethnicity each were independently associated with reported anxiety due to the DTC-ad (adjusted odds ratio [OR] = 3.23, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.35, 7.73, and adjusted OR = 4.19, 95% CI = 1.48, 11.83, respectively). Greater knowledge was seen among respondents exposed to the DTC-ad than among those reporting no exposure (P = .015). Of the physician respondents, 84% reported that the DTC-ad caused no strain on the doctor-patient relationship, and nearly 80% reported no effect on daily clinical practice. Genetic referrals soared more than 200% compared with the prior year, when there was no advertising.
Conclusion: The DTC-ad had a marked impact on genetic services, but little apparent negative impact on patients or primary care providers at an MCO.