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Interpreting direct-to-consumer genetic tests in the public health system: exploring the trade-offs.

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Author: Beak, Carla
Direct-to-consumer (DTC) genetic testing poses a growing problem in the field of health policy. Consumers who purchase the tests often do not have the knowledge required to interpret the tests and make informed decisions related to their care. They then turn to health care providers to interpret test results, many who also have limited knowledge of genetics. This may lead to decisions regarding further testing, treatment and referrals that do not benefit the patient and waste health care resources. Using interviews of stakeholders in the fields of health, genetics, education and ethics, I performed a thematic analysis to identify the key issues facing the health system in relation to DTC genetic testing. I then identified policy options available to the health system to aid physician decision-making. I evaluated the tradeoffs between the two most feasible policy options: promoting the Medical Genetics P&P telephone support line, and expanding HealthLink BC.
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