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J Health Soc Behav. 1999 Dec;40(4):429-45.

Attitudes toward genetic testing and fetal diagnosis, 1990-1996.

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  • 1Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor 48106-1248, USA.


With few exceptions, existing research on attitudes toward genetic testing and prenatal diagnosis is based on small studies using nonprobability samples of specialized populations. In this paper, we use a nationally representative sample from the General Social Survey to report on attitudinal change between 1990 and 1996, and to explore socio-demographic predictors of public views on genetic technology and reproduction in the context of changing mass media coverage between 1988 and 1995. During that period, media coverage of prenatal testing became both less frequent and less favorable, despite increasing use of this technology, whereas media reports about other types of genetic testing increased in frequency and became more favorable. Between 1990 and 1996, attitudes toward genetic testing remained stable, although the attitudes of specific demographic subgroups may be changing in different directions. Attitudes toward abortion in case of genetic defect became more negative over the period studied. We explore some of the implications of these findings.

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