Airmen and health-care providers' attitudes toward the use of genomic sequencing in the US Air Force: findings from the MilSeq Project

Genet Med. 2020 Dec;22(12):2003-2010. doi: 10.1038/s41436-020-0928-9. Epub 2020 Aug 18.


Purpose: The use of genomic sequencing (GS) in military settings poses unique considerations, including the potential for GS to impact service members' careers. The MilSeq Project investigated the use of GS in clinical care of active duty Airmen in the United States Air Force (USAF).

Methods: We assessed perceived risks, benefits, and attitudes toward use of GS in the USAF among patient participants (n = 93) and health-care provider participants (HCPs) (n = 12) prior to receiving or disclosing GS results.

Results: Participants agreed that there are health benefits associated with GS (90% patients, 75% HCPs), though more HCPs (75%) than patients (40%) agreed that there are risks (p = 0.048). The majority of both groups (67% HCPs, 77% patients) agreed that they trust the USAF with genetic information, but far fewer agreed that genetic information should be used to make decisions about deployment (5% patients, 17% HCPs) or duty assignments (3% patients, 17% HCPs). Despite their hesitancy, patients were supportive of the USAF testing for nondisease traits that could impact their duty performance. Eighty-seven percent of patients did not think their GS results would influence their career.

Conclusion: Results suggest favorable attitudes toward the use of GS in the USAF when not used for deployment or assignment decisions.

Keywords: ELSI; exome sequencing; genomics; healthy populations; military.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Genomics
  • Humans
  • Military Personnel*
  • United States