Author ORCID Identifier

Scott McGrath

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

BMC Health Services Research




Background: Precision medicine is set to deliver a rich new data set of genomic information. However, the number of certified specialists in the United States is small, with only 4244 genetic counselors and 1302 clinical geneticists. We conducted a national survey of 264 medical professionals to evaluate how they interpret genetic test results, determine their confidence and self-efficacy of interpreting genetic test results with patients, and capture their opinions and experiences with direct-to-consumer genetic tests (DTC-GT).
Methods: Participants were grouped into two categories, genetic specialists (genetic counselors and clinical geneticists) and medical providers (primary care, internists, physicians assistants, advanced nurse practitioners, etc.). The survey (full instrument can be found in the Additional file 1) presented three genetic test report scenarios for interpretation: a genetic risk for diabetes, genomic sequencing for symptoms report implicating a potential HMN7B: distal hereditary motor neuropathy VIIB diagnosis, and a statin-induced myopathy risk. Participants were also asked about their opinions on DTC-GT results and rank their own perceived level of preparedness to review genetic test results with patients.
Results: The rates of correctly interpreting results were relatively high (74.4% for the providers compared to the specialist’s 83.4%) and age, prior genetic test consultation experience, and level of trust assigned to the reports were associated with higher correct interpretation rates. The self-selected efficacy and the level of preparedness to consult on a patient’s genetic results were higher for the specialists than the provider group.
Conclusion: Specialists remain the best group to assist patients with DTC-GT, however, primary care providers may still provide accurate interpretation of test results when specialists are unavailable.


© 2019 The Author(s).

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.



Funded by the University of Nebraska at Omaha Open Access Fund