NEJM releases findings about behavioral impact of personal genetic testing

August 09, 2017

"We followed the progress of the study closely and made significant changes to our processes in response to the counseling rates we were seeing," said Elissa Levin, MS, CGC, Vice President of Genomic Services at Navigenics. "Most people are not yet familiar with what a genetic counselor is or how speaking with one can help them understand their personal genetic data. Simply waiting for them to request a counseling session was not effective. We now proactively reach out to every individual who completes Navigenics' risk assessment, and, as a result, the majority now undergo genetic counseling, which is offered to all customers at no additional cost."

The study also found a notable correlation with risk disease susceptibility and intent to use health screenings or medical tests, such as mammograms and colonoscopies. The 25 percent of participants who shared results with their physicians were significantly more likely to make lifestyle changes.

"These data are informative for the potential of targeted screening, rather than the current mass medicine approach - screening based upon specific individual risk," said Dr. Topol. "As just one example, early detection is a critical factor in preventing many diseases, yet a lot of us don't get our health screenings as recommended. For instance, only about half of the people who should get colonoscopies actually do."

Dr. Vanier said that Navigenics looks forward to further findings from the SGHI study, as this research offers valuable insights that can continue to help shape the growing field of personal genomics.

"As with any new technology there is always an adoption curve, and these findings give a glimpse into how personal genetic information will be used as more people have access to the information," said Dr. Vanier. "What is exciting about the research today is that the findings validate the premise upon which we were founded - armed with information that is clinically actionable, people will make changes, and that happens best when supported by a healthcare professional."

Source: Navigenics