Predispositional genome sequencing in healthy adults: design, participant characteristics, and early outcomes of the PeopleSeq Consortium

Genome Med. 2019 Feb 27;11(1):10. doi: 10.1186/s13073-019-0619-9.


Background: Increasing numbers of healthy individuals are undergoing predispositional personal genome sequencing. Here we describe the design and early outcomes of the PeopleSeq Consortium, a multi-cohort collaboration of predispositional genome sequencing projects, which is examining the medical, behavioral, and economic outcomes of returning genomic sequencing information to healthy individuals.

Methods: Apparently healthy adults who participated in four of the sequencing projects in the Consortium were included. Web-based surveys were administered before and after genomic results disclosure, or in some cases only after results disclosure. Surveys inquired about sociodemographic characteristics, motivations and concerns, behavioral and medical responses to sequencing results, and perceived utility.

Results: Among 1395 eligible individuals, 658 enrolled in the Consortium when contacted and 543 have completed a survey after receiving their genomic results thus far (mean age 53.0 years, 61.4% male, 91.7% white, 95.5% college graduates). Most participants (98.1%) were motivated to undergo sequencing because of curiosity about their genetic make-up. The most commonly reported concerns prior to pursuing sequencing included how well the results would predict future risk (59.2%) and the complexity of genetic variant interpretation (56.8%), while 47.8% of participants were concerned about the privacy of their genetic information. Half of participants reported discussing their genomic results with a healthcare provider during a median of 8.0 months after receiving the results; 13.5% reported making an additional appointment with a healthcare provider specifically because of their results. Few participants (< 10%) reported making changes to their diet, exercise habits, or insurance coverage because of their results. Many participants (39.5%) reported learning something new to improve their health that they did not know before. Reporting regret or harm from the decision to undergo sequencing was rare (< 3.0%).

Conclusions: Healthy individuals who underwent predispositional sequencing expressed some concern around privacy prior to pursuing sequencing, but were enthusiastic about their experience and not distressed by their results. While reporting value in their health-related results, few participants reported making medical or lifestyle changes.

Keywords: Genomics; Personal genome sequencing; Public health; Return of results; Test utility.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease / psychology*
  • Genetic Testing*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation
  • Precision Medicine / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Whole Genome Sequencing*