86% of physicians aren't confident when interpreting genetic test results, study finds

Primary care providers voiced concerns about testing patients for genetic risks related to common chronic conditions, despite agreeing genetic testing may improve clinical outcomes, according to a study published in Health Affairs.

For the study, a team of researchers at the New York City-based Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai surveyed 488 PCPs in community and academic practices across New York City about their views on genetic testing, particularly when used to detect a patient's risk for various chronic conditions.

Three-quarters of respondents agreed genetic testing is useful for detecting genetic risks for chronic conditions. However, 86 percent of providers said they didn't feel confident interpreting genetic test results, despite the majority of providers having formal genetics education.

Roughly half of PCPs also indicated concern that genetic testing could lead to insurance discrimination, according to the study. More than half of respondents expressed concern that relaying information about genetic risks could cause patients excessive stress.

The researchers suggested their study provided useful insight into the "knowledge gaps" among providers that might hinder clinical implementation of genomic medicine for chronic conditions.

"Enhanced training, guidelines, clinical tools and awareness of patient protections might support the effective adoption of genomic medicine by primary care providers," the study authors concluded.

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