Experiences of early users of direct-to-consumer genomics in Switzerland: an exploratory study

Public Health Genomics. 2012;15(6):352-62. doi: 10.1159/000343792. Epub 2012 Nov 15.


Aims: This study explores attitudes, motivations and self-reported impact in connection with direct-to-consumer (DTC) genomic testing amongst a group of life scientists in Switzerland.

Methods: Data were collected through: (1) a self-completion online questionnaire, and (2) semi-structured qualitative interviews. Forty participants completed the questionnaire and 10 were interviewed.

Results: Curiosity was mentioned as the primary reason for undergoing testing, while less significance was attributed to receiving actionable health information. The opportunity to contribute to research ranked high as a motive for testing. Overall, participants assessed their experience with the test as positive and were willing to recommend it to others. Some reported that the testing had an impact on how they view their health, but only a third of participants planned on showing the results to health practitioners. Participants consistently referred to 'fun' when describing several aspects of the testing experience. The 'fun factor' manifested itself in different phases of the process, including the motivation for taking the test, receiving the information and putting the test results to use (including sharing and discussing it with others). This finding suggests the need to further explore the concept of personal utility in DTC genomics.

Conclusions: Although this group is not representative of the broader population due to both their scientific expertise and their willingness to try out a controversial new technology, their experiences provide valuable insights into the role of personal curiosity and altruism (fostering medical research) as motivations for testing and the utility attributed to both.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health
  • Community Participation*
  • Female
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease*
  • Genetic Testing*
  • Genomics*
  • Humans
  • Information Dissemination
  • Male
  • Motivation*
  • Perception
  • Precision Medicine
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult