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Journal of Cancer Epidemiology
Volume 2012, Article ID 309109, 7 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2012/309109
Research Article

Increasing Public Awareness of Direct-to-Consumer Genetic Tests: Health Care Access, Internet Use, and Population Density Correlates

1Clinical Monitoring Research Program, SAIC-Frederick, Inc., NCI, Frederick, MD 21702, USA
2Division of Health Policy and Management, University of Minnesota, 420 Delaware Street SE, MMC 729, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA
3Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences, National Cancer Institute, 6130 Executive Boulvard, MSC 7326, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA

Received 19 April 2012; Revised 19 June 2012; Accepted 19 June 2012

Academic Editor: Angela Bryan

Copyright © 2012 Lila J. Finney Rutten et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Uncertainty around the value of and appropriate regulatory models for direct-to-consumer (DTC) genetic testing underscores the importance of tracking public awareness of these services. We analyzed nationally representative, cross-sectional data from the Health Information National Trends Survey in 2008 ( 𝑛 = 7 , 6 7 4 ) and 2011 ( 𝑛 = 3 , 9 5 9 ) to assess population-level changes in awareness of DTC genetic testing in the U.S. and to explore sociodemographic, health care, Internet use, and population density correlates. Overall, awareness increased significantly from 29% in 2008 to 37% in 2011. The observed increase in awareness from 2008 to 2011 remained significant ( O R = 1 . 3 9 ) even when adjusted for sociodemographic variables, health care access, Internet use, and population density. Independent of survey year, the odds of awareness of DTC genetic tests were significantly higher for those aged 50–64 ( O R = 1 . 6 4 ), and 65–74 ( O R = 1 . 6 0 ); college graduates ( O R = 2 . 0 2 ); those with a regular source of health care ( O R = 1 . 2 7 ); those with a prior cancer diagnosis ( O R = 1 . 2 4 ); those who use the Internet ( O R = 1 . 2 7 ); and those living in urban areas ( O R = 1 . 2 5 ). Surveillance of awareness—along with empirical data on use of and response to genetic risk information—can inform public health and policy efforts to maximize benefits and minimize risks of DTC genetic testing.