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J Health Commun. 2011 Jul;16(6):607-28. doi: 10.1080/10810730.2011.551993. Epub 2011 May 24.

Attitudes toward direct-to-consumer advertisements and online genetic testing among high-risk women participating in a hereditary cancer clinic.

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Department of Psychology, University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut 06269-1020, USA.


Genetic testing for the breast cancer genes 1/2 (BRCA 1/2) has helped women determine their risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer. As interest in genetic testing has grown, companies have created strategies to disseminate information about testing, including direct-to-consumer advertising (DTCA) and online genetic testing. This study examined attitudes toward DTCA and online testing for BRCA among 84 women at a high-risk clinic as well as additional factors that may be associated with these attitudes, such as personal and familial cancer history, cancer worry and risk perception, and history with genetic testing/counseling. Results showed that the majority of the women held favorable attitudes toward DTCA for BRCA testing but did not support online testing. Factors such as familial ovarian cancer, cancer worry, and satisfaction with genetic counseling/testing were associated with positive attitudes toward DTCA, whereas personal breast cancer history was related to negative attitudes. The findings suggest that women may view DTCA as informational but rely on physicians for help in their decision to undergo testing, and also suggest that cancer history may affect women's acceptance of DTCA and genetic testing.

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