Knowledge, views and expectations for cancer polygenic risk testing in clinical practice: A cross-sectional survey of health professionals

Clin Genet. 2021 Oct;100(4):430-439. doi: 10.1111/cge.14025. Epub 2021 Jul 12.

Abstract

Polygenic risk scores (PRS) are becoming increasingly available in clinical practice to evaluate cancer risk. However, little is known about health professionals' knowledge, attitudes, and expectations of PRS. An online questionnaire was distributed by relevant health professional organisations predominately in Australia, Canada and the US to evaluate health professionals' knowledge, views and expectations of PRS. Eligible participants were health professionals who provide cancer risk assessments. Results from the questionnaire were analysed descriptively and content analysis was undertaken of free-text responses. In total, 105 health professionals completed the questionnaire (genetic counsellors 84%; oncologists 6%; clinical geneticists 4%; other 7%). Although responses differed between countries, most participants (61%) had discussed PRS with patients, 20% had ordered a test and 14% had returned test results to a patient. Confidence and knowledge around interpreting PRS were low. Although 69% reported that polygenic testing will certainly or likely influence patient care in the future, most felt unprepared for this. If scaled up to the population, 49% expect that general practitioners would have a primary role in the provision of PRS, supported by genetic health professionals. These findings will inform the development of resources to support health professionals offering polygenic testing, currently and in the future.

Keywords: cancer; cross-sectional survey; genetics, medical; health knowledge, attitudes, practice; polygenic traits.