Aim: Personal genomic testing for nutrition and wellness (PGT-NG) offers a new service delivery model to nutritionists and dietitians. However, research indicates that this type of testing currently lacks sufficient clinical validity and utility to be commercially available. Despite Australian guidelines to the contrary, healthcare professionals are currently offering testing to clients, and promoting these services online. Thus, it is important to understand how PGT-NG is currently framed online to the public.
Methods: A mixed methods content analysis was conducted to assess the content, quality and marketing approaches of websites offering PGT-NG to Australians. Websites were identified using popular search engines to mimic the behaviour of a consumer. A novel framework was developed for the purposes of the analysis.
Results: Thirty-nine websites were analysed, comprising four nutritional genomic testing company websites and 35 healthcare provider websites. Healthcare providers relied on information from the testing companies. The content was emotive, and little attention was given to the scientific and ethical aspects of personal genomic testing. Websites appealed to consumer empowerment and framed testing as an essential and superior tool for optimising health.
Conclusions: Websites lacked the transparency necessary for informed consent. A basic checklist of key information was developed to aid healthcare providers when informing potential clients of PGT-NG online.
Keywords: content analysis; nutritional genomics; personal genomic testing.
© 2019 Dietitians Association of Australia.