Videoconferencing to deliver genetics services: a systematic review of telegenetics in light of the COVID-19 pandemic

Genet Med. 2021 Aug;23(8):1438-1449. doi: 10.1038/s41436-021-01149-2. Epub 2021 Apr 6.


Purpose: The COVID-19 pandemic has forced reorganization of clinical services to minimize face-to-face contact between patients and health-care providers. Specialist services, including clinical genetics, must consider methods of remote delivery including videoconferencing-termed telegenetics. This review evaluates the evidence for telegenetics and its applicability to future service development.

Methods: A systematic review of six databases was conducted to identify studies from 2005 onward using synchronous videoconferencing to deliver clinical genetics services. Included studies compared telegenetics to an alternative method or used a before and after design.

Results: Thirteen studies met the inclusion criteria (eight compared telegenetics to in-person consultations and three to telephone delivery). Patient satisfaction, genetic knowledge, and psychosocial outcomes were similar for in-person and telegenetic counseling. There was some evidence that telegenetics may be superior to telephone delivery for knowledge gain and reduction in anxiety and depression. There is limited evidence concerning the effect of telegenetics on provider satisfaction and behavioral outcomes. Conclusions are limited by at least moderate risk of bias in all evaluated studies and small sample sizes.

Conclusion: Across most outcomes measured, telegenetics had equivalent outcomes to in-person appointment; however, the extent to which the available evidence is applicable to longer-term use is debatable.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19*
  • Genetic Counseling
  • Humans
  • Pandemics
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Telemedicine*
  • Videoconferencing