Consumers report lower confidence in their genetics knowledge following direct-to-consumer personal genomic testing

Genet Med. 2016 Jan;18(1):65-72. doi: 10.1038/gim.2015.34. Epub 2015 Mar 26.


Purpose: The aim of this study was to measure changes to genetics knowledge and self-efficacy following personal genomic testing (PGT).

Methods: New customers of 23andMe and Pathway Genomics completed a series of online surveys. We measured genetics knowledge (nine true/false items) and genetics self-efficacy (five Likert-scale items) before receipt of results and 6 months after results and used paired methods to evaluate change over time. Correlates of change (e.g., decision regret) were identified using linear regression.

Results: 998 PGT customers (59.9% female; 85.8% White; mean age 46.9 ± 15.5 years) were included in our analyses. Mean genetics knowledge score was 8.15 ± 0.95 (out of 9) at baseline and 8.25 ± 0.92 at 6 months (P = 0.0024). Mean self-efficacy score was 29.06 ± 5.59 (out of 35) at baseline and 27.7 ± 5.46 at 6 months (P < 0.0001); on each item, 30-45% of participants reported lower self-efficacy following PGT. Change in self-efficacy was positively associated with health-care provider consultation (P = 0.0042), impact of PGT on perceived control over one's health (P < 0.0001), and perceived value of PGT (P < 0.0001) and was negatively associated with decision regret (P < 0.0001).

Conclusion: Lowered genetics self-efficacy following PGT may reflect an appropriate reevaluation by consumers in response to receiving complex genetic information.Genet Med 18 1, 65-72.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Consumer Behavior
  • Direct-To-Consumer Screening and Testing / methods
  • Direct-To-Consumer Screening and Testing / psychology*
  • Female
  • Genetic Testing / methods*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Perception
  • Surveys and Questionnaires