Interest in genetic testing for colon cancer susceptibility: cognitive and emotional correlates

Prev Med. 1993 Mar;22(2):284-92. doi: 10.1006/pmed.1993.1023.


Background: Recent advances in human genetics have led to the identification of markers for cancer susceptibility. Nevertheless, little is known about the public's interest in clinical genetic testing for cancer-related markers.

Methods: A random-digit-dial telephone survey of 401 adult residents of Utah was conducted during the summer of 1990. Respondents were randomized to one of three question frames and asked about their interest in a potential genetic test for colon cancer susceptibility. They were also asked to rate their risk for colon cancer, how often they worried about contracting any type of cancer, and how often they felt worried and nervous during the past year (trait anxiety).

Results: Eighty-three percent of respondents expressed interest in genetic testing. Level of interest was most strongly correlated with perceived risk for colon cancer (r = 0.21, P < 0.001). Responses were not affected by the use of different question frames.

Conclusions: These results show a high level of public interest in genetic testing for colon cancer susceptibility. The data also suggest that anxiety does not undermine interest, but future research must determine whether this relationship is limited to hypothetical judgments such as those studied here.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anxiety
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Christianity
  • Colonic Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Colonic Neoplasms / genetics
  • Colonic Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Disease Susceptibility / diagnosis
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Genetic Testing / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Regression Analysis
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Telephone
  • Utah