The behavioral response to personalized genetic information: will genetic risk profiles motivate individuals and families to choose more healthful behaviors?

Annu Rev Public Health. 2010;31:89-103. doi: 10.1146/annurev.publhealth.012809.103532.


This report describes the use of information emerging from genetic discovery to motivate risk-reducing health behaviors. Most research to date has evaluated the effects of information related to rare genetic variants on screening behaviors, in which genetic risk feedback has been associated consistently with improved screening adherence. The limited research with common genetic variants suggests that genetic information, when based on single-gene variants with low-risk probabilities, has little impact on behavior. The effect on behavioral outcomes of more realistic testing scenarios in which genetic risk is based on numerous genetic variants is largely unexplored. Little attention has been directed to matching genetic information to the literacy levels of target audiences. Another promising area for research is consideration of using genetic information to identify risk shared within kinship networks and to expand the influence of behavior change beyond the individual.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chronic Disease
  • Communication
  • Evidence-Based Practice
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease / psychology*
  • Genome, Human
  • Health Behavior*
  • Health Literacy
  • Health Promotion / methods
  • Humans
  • Mass Screening / statistics & numerical data
  • Motivation*
  • Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Risk
  • Risk Reduction Behavior*
  • Smoking Cessation
  • Social Support