Patients shelling out for personal genetic testing — known as direct-to-consumer testing — can choose what they want to do with those findings. Medical geneticist Robert Green of Harvard kept tabs on nearly 2,000 people who had the testing done to see how they used their results. Here’s what he found, as described in the new issue of Annals of Internal Medicine.
Did people actually share their results with their doctors?
[Before testing,] 63 percent of them had intended to take their results to their primary care provider. But only 27 percent ended up doing that. A number of people thought the results weren’t important enough, but an almost equal amount hadn’t had time to go see their doctors.
What was the experience like for people who did share the results?
Interestingly, when you looked at the number who had actually discussed results with their primary care provider, 35 percent were very satisfied and 18 percent were very dissatisfied. Some people reported situations where the doctor dismissed the results, or dismissed the entire enterprise. But there’s an aspect of actionability to these results, so doctors are able to say ‘Let’s use this to talk about your blood pressure, your diet, etc.’ So I think there can be ways for doctors to use these results even if they don’t fully endorse direct-to-consumer testing, which many don’t.