Psychiatrists’ Views of the Genetic Bases of Mental Disorders and Behavioral Traits and Their Use of Genetic Tests

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We examined how 372 psychiatrists view genetic aspects of mental disorders and behaviors and use genetic tests (GTs). Most thought that the genetic contribution was moderate/high for bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, depression, Alzheimer’s, intelligence, creativity, anxiety, and suicidality. In the past 6 months, 14.1% ordered GTs, 18.3% discussed prenatal testing with patients, 36.0% initiated discussions about other GTs, 41.6% had patients ask about GTs, and 5.3% excluded GT results from patient records. Many thought that GTs; were available for schizophrenia (24.3%) and major depression (19.6%). Women were more likely to report that patients asked about GTs; and were less certain about the degree of genetic contribution to several disorders. Psychiatrists perceive strong genetic bases for numerous disorders and traits, and many have discussed and ordered tests for GTs, but have relatively limited knowledge about available tests. These data suggest possible sex differences in psychiatrists’ beliefs about genetic contributions to disorders and have implications for future research, education, policy, and care.

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