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Genet Med. 2005 Nov-Dec;7(9):605-10.

Deficiency of knowledge of genetics and genetic tests among general practitioners, gynecologists, and pediatricians: a global problem.

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1
Department of Clinical Genetics and Human Genetics, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Abstract

PURPOSE:

The objective of this study was to assess knowledge of genetics and awareness of genetic tests among Dutch general practitioners (GPs), gynecologists (GYNs), and pediatricians (PEDs), as well as factors influencing their knowledge and awareness.

METHODS:

An anonymous questionnaire inquiry was used, validated with a sample of 52 clinical geneticists (CGs). The study was carried out in primary care (general practice) and secondary care (general and university hospitals) in The Netherlands. A random sample of 200 GPs, 300 GYNs, and 265 PEDs received a questionnaire. In addition, all registered CGs (58) received a questionnaire for validation. In total, 122 GPs, 187 GYNs, 164 PEDs, and 52 CGs returned a completed questionnaire. The main outcome measures were differences in knowledge scores between physicians working in different disciplines and factors influencing these scores.

RESULTS:

Knowledge scores of GPs (mean 64% correct answers, 61%-66% [95% confidence interval]), GYNs (mean 75% correct answers, 73%-76% [95% confidence interval]), and PEDs (mean 81% correct answers, 79%-82% [95% confidence interval]) were lower than those in the CG validation group (mean 95% correct answers, 94%-96% [95% confidence interval]). The 5th percentile of GPs, GYNs, and PEDs was at approximately 40%, 52% and 62% correct answers, respectively. There was a specific lack of knowledge about DNA testing. In addition to specialty, important factors positively associated with the knowledge scores of nongeneticists are more recent graduation, having taken an elective course in genetics, and providing genetic counseling in their own practice.

CONCLUSION:

The overall knowledge levels of genetics in many nongeneticist health care providers show clear deficiencies. This is in line with reports from other countries, showing that these deficiencies are a global problem.

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