This study examines the presentation of genetic and behavioral causation and prevention in websites that make medical recommendations to lay people for four diseases: heart disease, diabetes, lung lancer, and depression.Methods:
A sample of 73 online medical recommendations from major health institutions and information portals were retrieved for content analysis, with a focus on the depiction of gene-environment relationships.Results:
The results show a clear preponderance of behavioral causation and recommendations. When genetic information is presented, genetic and environmental factors (including behaviors) are depicted as independent contributors to health outcomes, rather than as interactive.Conclusion:
This study suggests that interactive depictions of genes and behavior should be considered when genetics is presented in medical accounts of causation and prevention of common, complex diseases.