April 12th, 2012
Posted by Caroline Popper, M.D., M.P.H.
Practice guidelines help physicians and other health care providers deliver consistent and information-based medical advice to their patients. But health care is changing radically: Genomic testing costs dipping below $2,000, patients and consumers accessing information over the web and even ordering tests for themselves, and the general awareness of genetic information in treatment decisions, are all factors at the base of this sea change. These dynamics are leading to greater consumer demand for this personalized genomic information, and possibly to consideration of health care options based on that information.
How do we balance guidelines focused on standardizing physician behavior with individual consumer demands for testing?
A new study at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the University of Michigan has begun to plumb the depth of this new consumer interest in genomics. The Personal Genomics (PGen) study is one of the first interdisciplinary inquiries to examine why people want genomic testing now. It will survey 1,000 volunteers. Then, physicians, scientists, attorneys, genetic counselors, psychologists and bioethicists – many of whom hope the study will guide public policy and business practices in this area – will analyze the results.
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