Genetic tests don't drive demand for follow-up care

New research published this week in the journal Genetics in Medicine suggests that patients who do undergo genetic testing aren't likely to demand abnormal levels of follow-up tests or other care.

The work is part of The Multiplex Initiative--a project involving the National Institutes of Health and multiple partners--to look at how healthy, young adults use genetic testing for eight common diseases like type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, high blood cholesterol, hypertension, osteoporosis, lung cancer, colorectal cancer, and melanoma.

The study involves 217 healthy adults between the ages of 25 and 40 who volunteered to participate in genetic susceptibility testing. It looks at their consumption of healthcare services before and after genetic testing, comparing them with nearly 400 people who have not undergone genetic testing, according to a recent post on the Stanford University School of Medicine blog Scope. In the end, there was little difference found between the two groups in terms of demand for care.

The NIH also says the study is significant because it is based on study of electronic health records rather then self-reporting.

"There are a lot of unanswered questions about how genetic test results can be used to guide people toward making positive lifestyle and health behavior changes," Colleen McBride, chief of the Social and Behavioral Research Branch at the National Human Genome Research Institute, says in a statement from the Seattle-based Group Health Research Institute, which is involved in the study. "This study goes a long way toward bringing data to these debates and shows that people are not likely to make inappropriate demands of health delivery systems if they are properly informed about the limitations of genetic tests."

To learn more:
- read the Scope post
- here's Genetics in Medicine's abstract of the research
- read about The Multiplex Initiative
- check out this announcement from the Group Health Research Institute

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