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Public Health Genomics. 2010;13(2):80-8. doi: 10.1159/000220034. Epub 2009 May 19.

Attitude and knowledge about genetics and genetic testing.

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  • 1IWK Health Centre, Halifax, NS, B3K 6R8 Canada.



Increasing numbers of health care users may be confronted with new genetic knowledge and discoveries that offer new types of medical decision-making. How people use these new insights and make decisions about genetic risk depends, at least in part, on their knowledge and attitudes about human genetics.


A postal survey administered to 560 women who had been offered prenatal screening in Ontario measured knowledge about, and attitudes toward, genetic testing and the uses of genetic information.


Respondents strongly supported the use of genetic information to improve disease diagnosis and to help understand disease causes; however, people also held a more critical attitude towards certain aspects of testing and genetic information. Relatively high levels of knowledge about genetics were also observed in this sample, although there were deficits in specific areas (e.g., transmission patterns).


Despite overall positive attitudes towards genetics, participants held more critical attitudes towards certain aspects of testing and the uses of genetic information. It would be unwise for genetics policy-makers and stakeholders to assume that a better-informed public would automatically be more supportive of all genetics research and new genetic discoveries.

Copyright 2009 S. Karger AG, Basel.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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