Background: Racial and ethnic disparities in awareness of genetic testing for cancer risk are substantial.
Purpose: This study assesses the relative importance of contributing factors to gaps in awareness of genetic testing for cancer risk across racial and ethnic groups.
Methods: Data from the 2005 National Health Interview Survey (N=25,364) were analyzed in 2009 to evaluate the contribution of demographic factors, SES, health status, nativity/length of residency in the U.S., personal/family history of cancer, and perceived cancer risk to racial and ethnic disparities in genetic testing awareness for cancer risk. The contribution of each factor was assessed using the Fairlie decomposition technique.
Results: About 48% of non-Hispanic whites reported that they had heard about genetic testing, followed by 31% of blacks, 28% of Asians, and 19% of Hispanics. Education and nativity/length of residency in the U.S. explained 26% and 30% of the gap between whites and Hispanics, respectively. Education accounted for 22% of the white-black gap, with residential region explaining another 11%. Nativity/length of residency in the U.S. explained 51% of the white-Asian gap.
Conclusions: The relative importance of factors contributing to racial and ethnic disparities in genetic testing awareness is specific to the particular groups under comparison. Diverse, culturally competent approaches are needed to improve awareness for different racial and ethnic groups.