Psychiatrists' attitudes regarding genetic testing and patient safeguards: a preliminary study

Genet Test. 2008 Jun;12(2):245-52. doi: 10.1089/gte.2007.0097.


Aims: A probability sample of U.S. psychiatrists (n = 93) was invited to complete a mail survey regarding the likely impact of genetic testing on psychiatry; the clinical utility of pharmacogenetic, diagnostic, and susceptibility genetic testing; and 14 proposed ethical and legal safeguards for clinical genetic testing.

Results: Forty-five psychiatrists participated in the survey (response rate = 48%). The majority (80% and 60%, respectively) believed that genetic testing would benefit many psychiatric patients and would dramatically change the way psychiatry is practiced. Many psychiatrists (73-85%) also stated that pharmacogenetic, diagnostic, and susceptibility tests for common psychiatric disorders would be somewhat useful or extremely useful in the clinical setting. Nearly all (98-100%) believed that psychiatrists should obtain informed consent before genetic testing, should keep test results confidential, should provide pre- and posttest counseling, and should demonstrate competence in interpreting test results. Nearly all (96-100%) supported laws and regulations to prevent discrimination based on genetic test results and to protect consumers from misleading advertisements for testing. Ninety-one percent endorsed restrictions on the sale of genetic tests directly to consumers.

Conclusions: This probability sample of U.S. psychiatrists expressed a strongly positive view of genetic testing in psychiatry, while voicing nearly unanimous support for seven ethical and legal safeguards.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Confidentiality
  • Ethics, Medical
  • Genetic Privacy
  • Genetic Testing / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Genetic Testing / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Informed Consent
  • Medical Records / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Physicians / psychology*
  • Psychiatry*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires