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Personal genomic screening: How best to facilitate preparedness of future clients


Personal genome screening (PGenS) is increasingly being offered as a screen for future health management, and to identify carrier status pertinent to reproductive decision-making. The aim of this study was therefore to explore the experience of individuals who undertook PGenS through the 2014 Sydney “Understand Your Genome (UYG)” event and a 2015 offer of PGenS by Australian biotechnology company Life Letters (LL). Eligible individuals were invited to participate by their clinical geneticist (UYG), or email from Director of LL. Semi-structured telephone interviews with 17 individuals were audio-recorded, transcribed, de-identified and analyzed by two coders using thematic analysis with an inductive approach. Nine participants had genetic/genomics expertise and eight were well-informed health and business professionals. Individual participant PGenS results included: an autosomal dominant condition not previously clinically identified (n = 1); carrier status for recessive condition(s) (n = 8); a number of disease-causing variants associated with an increased susceptibility to an inherited disorder (n = 7); variants of uncertain significance (n = 5); and a few pharmacogenomically-relevant variants (n = 4). The majority of participants described the importance of pre-test genetic counseling, information and/or consent (n = 12). Some barriers to uptake were identified, including scepticism by GPs (n = 6), colleagues (n = 3), and family members (n = 2), as well as privacy concerns (n = 4). Those without genetic/genomics expertise were mostly motivated to have testing by curiosity or interest in personal health (6/8), one seeking a diagnosis for an inherited medical condition and another for future health management. For many with genetic/genomics experience, the motivation was professional interest (8/9) and/or curiosity (5/9), without concern for personal health risk (4/9). On reflection, despite this initial motivation by the latter, the test result had unanticipated personal impact for some of this group, which changed over time (4/5). Several later recognized this, as health problems developed or family history was interrogated more closely. For all participants, disclosure of results to extended family members was limited. Most participants felt personal and family implications and communication (5/17) and/or expectations (3/17) should be addressed at the pre-test session, including more emphasis on residual risk and changes in interpretation with developing phenotypes. Those without genetics/genomics expertise highlighted the need for easy to understand pre-test information and/or an example report to be provided (7/8). These results are consistent with a need to develop more accessible resources, and more personalized counseling approaches to address expectations, dissemination of results, and preparedness for unexpected findings.

Type Journal
ISBN 1769-7212
Authors Fleming, Jane; Terrill, Bronwyn; Dziadek, Marie; Kirk, Edwin P.; Roscioli, Tony; Barlow-Stewart, Kristine
Publisher Name European Journal of Medical Genetics
Published Date 2019-05-07
Published Volume 62
Published Issue 5
Published Pages 397-404
Status Published in-print
URL link to publisher's version