Participant use and communication of findings from exome sequencing: a mixed-methods study

Genet Med. 2016 Jun;18(6):577-83. doi: 10.1038/gim.2015.133. Epub 2015 Nov 5.


Purpose: This study investigated how genome sequencing results affect health behaviors, affect, and communication.

Methods: We report on 29 participants who received a sequence result in the ClinSeq study, a cohort of well-educated, postreproductive volunteers. A mixed-methods design was used to explore respondents' use, communication, and perceived utility of results.

Results: Most participants (72%) shared their result with at least one health-care provider, and 31% reported subsequent changes in the health care they received. Participants scored high on the Positive Experiences subscale and low on the Distress subscale of a modified version of the Multidimensional Impact of Cancer Risk Assessment. The majority (93%) shared their result with at least one family member. Participants described deriving personal utility from their results.

Conclusion: This article is the first to describe research participants' reactions to actionable sequencing results. Our findings suggest clinical and personal benefit from receiving sequencing results, both of which may contribute to improved health for the recipients. Given the participants' largely positive or neutral affective responses and disclosure of their results to physicians and relatives, health-care providers should redirect concern from the potential for distress and attend to motivating patients to follow their medical recommendations.Genet Med 18 6, 577-583.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Communication
  • Disclosure*
  • Family
  • Female
  • Genome, Human / genetics*
  • Health Personnel / psychology
  • Healthy Volunteers / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Whole Exome Sequencing*