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The 5th ELSI Congress - ELSIcon2022

ELSIcon2022 Flash: Self-Identified Spirituality and Interest in Genetic Testing for Hereditary Cancer Risk


ELSIcon2022 • Flash • May 27, 2022

Tesla Theoryn, Deborah J. Bowen, EJ Dusic, Kevin C. Cain, Brian Shirts, Elizabeth Swisher, Jeannine Brant

Genetic testing for cancer risk can reduce the burden of cancer in the US by boosting preventive care. While interest in this testing is generally high, many patients still opt out of the testing process. Understanding the reasons why can help providers address patients' needs and target education efforts. Data was collected from the Early Detection of Genetic Risk baseline survey (n = 1,311), which assessed motivations for, and interests in, genetic testing of participants in Montana and Wyoming. This study highlights statements from individuals who utilized spiritual reasoning on a free-response question for additional views for/against genetic testing. Participants who completed the free-response question (n = 514) were stratified into two groups: those who were very or extremely interested in genetic testing (n = 254) and those who were not at all, a little bit, or moderately interested in genetic testing (n = 260). Across these two groups, a total of seven responses used religious motivations to explain their feelings towards genetic testing. All seven of these responses fell within the less interested subgroup of participants, with 57% of them expressing the lowest level of interest. Participants referenced “gods will”, the afterlife, and faith in God’s healing abilities. Information about the vast diversity of religious beliefs behind these comments is not available so only the precise content of comments is discussed. Further investigation into the relationship between genetic testing and specific spiritual beliefs, along with associated motivating factors, could help providers understand and communicate more constructively with their patients.


Uptake of genetic testing
Genetic testing and screening

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