Background: In view of the increasing availability of commercial internet-based Personal Genome Testing (PGT), this study aimed to explore the reasons why people would consider taking such a test and how they would use the genetic risk information provided.
Methodology/principal findings: A self-completion questionnaire assessing public awareness and interest in PGT and motivational reasons for undergoing PGT was completed by 4,050 unselected adult volunteers from the UK-based TwinsUK register, aged 17 to 91 (response rate 62%). Only 13% of respondents were aware of the existence of PGT. After reading a brief summary about PGT, one in twenty participants (5%) were potentially interested at current prices (£250), however this proportion rose to half (50%) if the test was free of charge. Nearly all respondents who were interested in free PGT reported they would take the test to encourage them to adopt a healthier lifestyle if found to be at high genetic risk of a disease (93%). Around 4 in 5 respondents would have the test to convey genetic risk information to their children and a similar proportion felt that having a PGT would enable their doctor to monitor their health more closely. A TwinsUK research focus group also indicated that consumers would consult their GP to help interpret results of PGT.
Conclusions/significance: This hypothetical study suggests that increasing publicity and decreasing costs of PGT may lead to increased uptake, driven in part by the general public's desire to monitor and improve their health. Although the future extent of the clinical utility of PGT is currently unknown, it is crucial that consumers are well informed about the current limitations of PGT. Our results suggest that health professionals will inevitably be required to respond to individuals who have undergone PGT. This has implications for health service providers regarding both cost and time.