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Public opinion on policy issues in genetics and genomics

Genetics in Medicine volume 16, pages 491494 (2014) | Download Citation



The aim of this study was to examine public opinion on major policy issues in genetics and genomics, including federal spending on genetic research, the perceived significance of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008, and whether clinicians should be involved in direct-to-consumer genetic testing.


This was a survey with a nationally representative sample of 2,100 American adults administered by the nonpartisan research firm YouGov in January 2011.


The majority of the respondents (57%) believe that the federal government should spend more on genetic research, 82% rank the 2008 antidiscrimination law as “important,” and 65% say that clinicians should be involved in explaining genetic test results (contra the practice of some direct-to-consumer companies). On all three policy issues, gender and political party affiliation were statistically significantly associated with respondents’ views, whereas race/ethnicity and education were less consistently associated with policy opinions.


Americans demonstrate widespread support for scientific research on genetics, laws protecting citizens against genetic discrimination, and the need to involve medical professionals in the process of genetic testing. These results are useful for scientists designing research projects, clinicians interacting with patients, professional organizations lobbying for resources, federal agencies setting budget priorities, and legislators designing regulation.

Genet Med 16 6, 491–494.

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The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Scholars in Health Policy Research Program at the University of California–Berkeley and the University of California–San Francisco provided funding for the survey. Both the authors designed the survey, which was conducted by the nonpartisan research firm YouGov. S.K.G. analyzed the data, with research assistance provided by Iris Chan, sociology graduate student at Yale University, and Gokhan Savas, sociology graduate student at Syracuse University. R.A. wrote the manuscript, which was reviewed by S.K.G.

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  1. Department of Sociology, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, USA

    • Rene Almeling
  2. Department of Political Science, Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York, USA

    • Shana Kushner Gadarian


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Correspondence to Rene Almeling.

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