Assessment of patient perceptions of genomic testing to inform pharmacogenomic implementation

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Pharmacogenomics seeks to improve prescribing by reducing drug inefficacy/toxicity. However, views of patients during pharmacogenomic-guided care are largely unknown. We sought to understand the attitudes and perceptions of patients in an institutional implementation project and hypothesized that views would differ on the basis of experience with pharmacogenomic-guided care.


Two focus groups were conducted – one group included patients who had previously been subjected to broad pharmacogenomic genotyping with results available to physicians (pharmacogenomic group), whereas the other had not been offered genotyping (traditional care). Five domains were explored: (i) experiences with medications/side effects, (ii) understanding of pharmacogenomics, (iii) impact of pharmacogenomics on relationships with healthcare professionals, (iv) scenarios involving pharmacogenomic-guided prescribing, and (v) responses to pharmacogenomic education materials.


Nine pharmacogenomic and 13 traditional care participants were included. Participants in both groups agreed that pharmacogenomics could inform prescribing and help identify problem prescriptions, but expressed concerns over insurance coverage and employment discrimination. Both groups diverged on who should be permitted to access pharmacogenomic results, with some preferring access only for providers with a longstanding relationship, whereas others argued for open access. Notably, traditional care participants showed greater skepticism about how results might be used. Case scenarios and tested educational materials elicited strong desires on the part of patients for physicians to engage participants when considering pharmacogenomic-based prescribing and to utilize shared decision-making.


Participants experiencing pharmacogenomic-guided care were more receptive toward pharmacogenomic information being used than traditional care participants. As key stakeholders in implementation, addressing patients’ concerns will be important to successfully facilitate clinical dissemination.

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