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Genetic Counselors Insight: Growing Popularity of At Home Testing

With the growing popularity of at-home testing for genetics, we asked Genetic Counselors their thoughts on at-home testing and its efficacy. 

We first asked – What do you think about patients doing at home testing? For example, Everlywell, LetsGetChecked, 23andMe etc? On a scale of 1 to 7, with 7 being strongly agree, most questions averaged in the middle ground of 3.17-5.75 with the strongest opinions being on accuracy of the tests and the importance of consulting with a healthcare provider. 
Based on their responses it seems that while these tests are growing in popularity with the market expected to surpass $10B in 2028, Genetic Counselors reported concerns over patients using them as an indicator for health in addition to questions over the validity of the results patients receive.

We asked respondents to elaborate on how someone who is interested in accessing genetic counseling should go about the process of contacting a Genetic Counselor through a healthcare provider. Who should look into genetic testing? 

  • “Patients with a concerning family history for a genetic disorder, young or rare cancers, or cancers in multiple generations, couples considering pregnancy with family history concerns or couples interested in carrier screening”
  • “Those with significant person or family history of disease (I.e cancer, cardiac disease, etc). Those that meet clinical criteria for an inherited syndrome or those with a family history of an inherited condition or suspected inherited condition. Certain genetic testing including cancer or cardiac risk should be made available to anyone that wants the information regardless of personal or family history; however, those individuals should be made aware of potential results and should follow up with a genetic counselor even if negative.

How would you recommend someone identify and meet with a genetic counselor that is right for their situation?

The primary response from our experts was recommending to:

-Speak with Primary Care Physician/Obtain a referral from your PCP

OR

-findageneticcounselor.nsgc.org

Based on the data collected and to gain better insight on how often Genetic Counselor referrals are made, we asked 100 PCP’s how many people they have referred a patient to a genetic counselor in the last year and 52% said less than 10 times, 30%indicated between 10 and 20 times.  9% between 20-50 times, finally 9% had made more than 50 referrals in the last year. Overall, if patients choose to use at home testing, Genetic Counselors recommend to always consult with a healthcare professional on the results.

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