Disclosing Genetic Risk for Coronary Heart Disease: Attitudes Toward Personal Information in Health Records

Am J Prev Med. 2017 Apr;52(4):499-506. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2016.11.005. Epub 2017 Jan 3.


Introduction: Incorporating genetic risk information in electronic health records (EHRs) will facilitate implementation of genomic medicine in clinical practice. However, little is known about patients' attitudes toward incorporation of genetic risk information as a component of personal health information in EHRs. This study investigated whether disclosure of a genetic risk score (GRS) for coronary heart disease influences attitudes toward incorporation of personal health information including genetic risk in EHRs.

Methods: Participants aged 45-65 years with intermediate 10-year coronary heart disease risk were randomized to receive a conventional risk score (CRS) alone or with a GRS from a genetic counselor, followed by shared decision making with a physician using the same standard presentation and information templates for all study participants. The CRS and GRS were then incorporated into the EHR and made accessible to both patients and physicians. Baseline and post-disclosure surveys were completed to assess whether attitudes differed by GRS disclosure. Data were collected from 2013 to 2015 and analyzed in 2015-2016.

Results: GRS and CRS participants reported similar positive attitudes toward incorporation of genetic risk information in the EHR. Compared with CRS participants, participants with high GRS were more concerned about the confidentiality of genetic risk information (OR=3.67, 95% CI=1.29, 12.32, p=0.01). Post-disclosure, frequency of patient portal access was associated with positive attitudes.

Conclusions: Participants in this study of coronary heart disease risk disclosure overall had positive attitudes toward incorporation of genetic risk information in EHRs, although those who received genetic risk information had concerns about confidentiality.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude to Health
  • Confidentiality
  • Coronary Disease / genetics*
  • Disclosure*
  • Electronic Health Records*
  • Female
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged