Racial and ethnic differences in knowledge and attitudes about genetic testing in the US: Systematic review

Juan R. Canedo, Stephania T. Miller, Hector F. Myers, Maureen Sanderson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Precision medicine has grown over the past 20 years with the availability of genetic tests and has changed the one-size-fits-all paradigm in medicine. Precision medicine innovations, such as newly available genetic tests, could potentially widen racial and ethnic disparities if access to them is unequal and if interest to use them differs across groups. The objective of this systematic review was to synthesize existing evidence on racial and ethnic differences in knowledge of and attitudes toward genetic testing among adult patients and the general public in the US, focusing on research about the use of genetic testing in general, not disease-specific tests. Twelve articles published in 1997–2017 met inclusion and exclusion criteria, with 10 including knowledge variables and seven including attitude variables. Studies found consistent patterns of lower awareness of genetic testing in general among non-Whites compared to Whites, lower factual knowledge scores among Blacks and Hispanics/Latinos, and mixed findings of differences in awareness of direct-to-consumer (DTC) genetic testing or the term precision medicine. Blacks, Hispanics/Latinos, and non-Whites generally had more concerns about genetic testing than Whites. The findings suggest that patients and the general public need access to culturally appropriate educational material about the use of genetic testing in precision medicine.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)587-601
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Genetic Counseling
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the Vanderbilt Institute for Clinical and Translational Research (VICTR), grant number UL1-TR000445 and Meharry Clinical and Translational Research Cente (MeTRC), grant number U54MD007593. The authors thank Rachel Lane Walden of the Vanderbilt University, Annette and Irwin Eskind Biomedical Library for her assistance with the literature search strat‐ egy. Dr. Melanie Myers served as Action Editor on the manuscript review process and publication decision.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 National Society of Genetic Counselors


  • awareness
  • direct-to-consumer
  • ethnic
  • genetic testing
  • health disparities
  • knowledge
  • minorities
  • pharmacogenomics
  • precision medicine
  • racial

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics(clinical)


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