Genome-wide profiling is increasingly being marketed towards consumers to assess their risk of developing certain diseases. However, there has been little research into the psychological effects of these tests.
Researchers from Scripps Translational Science Institute have now looked into these effects in a large group of patients. They followed 2,037 participants who took the Navigenics Health Compass, a test that assesses the risk for about 20 common diseases, for a period of three months.
Taking the test did not increase anxiety symptoms, dietary fat intake, or exercise behavior. There was some test-related distress correlated with the average estimated lifetime risk of getting the diseases tested for, but at the same time 90.3 percent of all subjects had no test-related distress at all. The use of screening tests did not change among the group and notably health effects of the test were not studied.
In conclusion, personal genetic testing does not seem to generate a lot of distress, although the study was clearly limited by a high dropout percentage of 44 percent and the self-selection of participants who opted to do the test.
Article in New England Journal of Medicine: Effect of Direct-to-Consumer Genomewide Profiling to Assess Disease Risk
Flashback: An Interview with Navigenics…
*This blog post was originally published at Medgadget*