Purpose: The objective of this work was to examine whether offers of multiplex genetic testing increase health-care utilization among healthy patients aged 25-40 years. The identification of genetic variants associated with common disease is accelerating rapidly. "Multiplex tests" that give individuals feedback on large panels of genetic variants have proliferated. Availability of these test results may prompt consumers to use more health-care services.
Methods: A total of 1,599 continuously insured adults aged 25-40 years were surveyed and offered a multiplex genetic susceptibility test for eight common health conditions. Health-care utilization from automated records was compared in 12-month pre- and posttest periods among persons who completed a baseline survey only (68.7%), those who visited a study website but opted not to test (17.8%), and those who chose the multiplex genetic susceptibility test (13.6%).
Results: In the pretest period, persons choosing genetic testing used an average of 1.02 physician visits per quarter as compared with 0.93 and 0.82 for the baseline-only and Web-only groups, respectively (P < 0.05). There were no statistically significant differences by group in the pretest use of any common medical tests or procedures associated with four common health conditions. When changes in physician and medical test/procedure use in the posttest period were compared among the groups, no statistically significant differences were observed for any utilization category.
Conclusions: Persons offered and completing multiplex genetic susceptibility testing used more physician visits before testing, but testing was not associated with subsequent changes in use. This study supports the supposition that multiplex genetic testing offers can be provided directly to the patients in such a way that use of health services is not inappropriately increased.