Assessing attitudes about genetic testing as a component of continuing medical education

Acad Psychiatry. 2007 Nov-Dec;31(6):447-51. doi: 10.1176/appi.ap.31.6.447.


Objective: To investigate the attitudes among mental health professionals regarding the use of genetic testing.

Methods: Psychiatrists and other mental health professionals (N=41) who were enrolled in a week-long course in psychiatric genomics completed questionnaires before and after the course designed to assess how diagnostic genetic tests should be used and the value of pharmacogenomic testing for clinical practice.

Results: Only 5% of the course participants knew their genotype for the CYP 2D6 and CYP 2C19 genes at the time they participated in the course. However, after completing the course, 95% of the participants who had not been tested responded that they would be tested if genotyping was provided at no cost. Most of the participants reported that adults have the right to know their genotypes. Specifically, a majority of participants also reported that adults should have access to information regarding their genetic predispositions to both Huntington's disease and Alzheimer's disease. A majority of participants believed that parents had the right to know the genotypes of their children and that adolescents should have access to their genotypes if they had parental permission or were emancipated minors. However, only 29% of participants reported that children ages 6 to 12 should have access to the results of their genotyping.

Conclusion: Continuing medical educational programs can provide an effective and informative opportunity to develop a better understanding of contemporary perspectives of practicing clinicians. Despite some variability in beliefs regarding the implications of age and diagnosis for making genetic testing decisions, a majority of course participants reported that they would choose to be genotyped for two drug metabolizing enzyme genes. Furthermore, they felt that, in most circumstances, adults should be permitted to know their genotype.

MeSH terms

  • Academic Medical Centers
  • Access to Information
  • Alzheimer Disease / genetics
  • Aryl Hydrocarbon Hydroxylases / genetics
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Curriculum
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP2C19
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP2D6 / genetics
  • Education, Medical, Continuing*
  • Genetic Testing / psychology*
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Huntington Disease / genetics
  • Legal Guardians
  • Mental Health Services*
  • Minors
  • Mixed Function Oxygenases / genetics
  • Pharmacogenetics / education
  • Psychiatry / education*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Mixed Function Oxygenases
  • Aryl Hydrocarbon Hydroxylases
  • CYP2C19 protein, human
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP2C19
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP2D6