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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Perceptions About Genetic Testing for the Susceptibility to Alcohol Dependence and Other Multifactorial Diseases

Beliefs, attitudes, and preferences about the risk and benefits of genetic testing are important determinants of willingness to undergo testing.

The purpose of this study was to evaluate the perceived importance of genetic testing for alcohol dependence compared with other multifactorial diseases among African Americans.

Surveys were conducted with 258 participants using the Genetic Psycho-Social Implications (GPSI) questionnaire to evaluate several areas of hypothetical genetic testing for alcohol dependence. Respondents were divided into two groups: those who perceived testing for alcohol dependence to be equally important as testing for cancer and those who did not. Using chi-square, the groups' responses were compared for nine GPSI items measuring beliefs about the severity of alcohol dependence, general benefits of genetic testing, and specific benefits of genetic testing for diabetes, hypertension, or a disease affecting a family member.

Nearly 86% of respondents believed that genetic testing for alcoholism was equally as important as testing for cancer. Those who reported parity of importance of alcohol dependence and cancer screening were more likely to believe that alcoholism is a deadly disease (p<0.001) and genetic testing influences health (p<0.001). Conclusion: African Americans reported favorable attitudes and beliefs in possible availability of susceptibility genetic testing for alcohol dependence. The perceived importance of testing for alcohol dependence was associated with beliefs about the severity of alcoholism and certain benefits of genetic testing in general.

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