Genetic information leaflets: Influencing attitudes towards genetic testing

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Abstract

Purpose:

This article explores how a “neutral” genetics information leaflet influenced people’s attitudes to be more positive toward predictive genetic testing. This is of concern, given the desire within clinical genetics and population based testing to provide information that informs choice without directing toward, or against, testing.

Method:

Four studies are reported. The first two investigated presentation (glossy and colored vs. black and white), and method of reading (read only vs. read followed by probing questions). The second two investigated content, using “think aloud,” “card sort,” and delayed recall tasks.

Results:

Those receiving a glossy leaflet expressed more positive attitudes and more interest in undergoing testing than those receiving a black and white leaflet, and those who were asked questions about what they had read were more positive about genetic testing than those who only read the leaflet. Recall one week later varied from 72% to 28%, depending on type of information. Information that described the advantages of genetic testing or discussed genes and genetic testing in relation to disease were well recalled and rated positively. Attitudes toward information ranged from 100% positive (e.g., what diseases genetic tests are available for) to 0% positive (e.g., the meaning of a positive result).

Conclusion:

These results show that quite small changes within a leaflet can change attitudes toward genetic testing. This is of concern, given the association between attitudes toward a behavior and undergoing that behavior. The form, method of presentation, and content of genetic information leaflets should be evaluated for impact on attitude and decisions before they are used clinically.

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