A Community’s Awareness and Perceptions of Genomic Medicine

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Vincent C. Henrich, Professor (Creator)
Susan A. Letvak, Professor, Department Chair, & Undergraduate Programs Director (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/

Abstract: Background: Focus groups were conducted in a mid-sized community to explore community members’ awareness and perceptions of genomic medicine and identify effective methods to educate the public about this topic. Methods: Thirteen focus groups were conducted with a demographically representative pool of 121 participants using a semi-structured interview guide. Transcripts were analyzed through a computer assisted approach with Atlas TI consisting of coding, categorizing, comparing, and contrasting relevant data. Results: Identified categories were organized into 6 main themes, which were similar across the groups and included: a lack of awareness, perceived benefits, concerns about genomic medicine, reasons for poor health related behavior, the potential impact of genetic information on health behavior, and the best ways to educate the community. Common concerns included lack of affordability, unanticipated physical harm, mistrust of the government and researchers, downstream effects like overpopulation, playing God/disturbing the natural order, lack of regulations, loss of privacy, genetic discrimination, and moral dilemmas posed by genetic engineering, cloning, choosing traits, and abortions resulting from genetic information. Participants also discussed ways to educate the community. Conclusions: While individuals recognized that diseases run in families, personal experience was a driving factor in participants’ level of knowledge. Many expressed optimism about genomic medicine. However, the lack of depth in responses and their misconceptions reflect a deficiency of knowledge, which along with their personal, moral, and global concerns could impede acceptance and utilization of genomic medicine. Many community members are receptive to learning more about genomic medicine, and many of their concerns and misconceptions can be addressed through a well designed education strategy.

Additional Information

Public Health Genomics, 13(2) 63-71.
Language: English
Date: 2009
Attitudes, Awareness, Focus group, Health education, Health knowledge, Public health

Email this document to