Knowledge and utilization of genetic testing : examining correlation to income
Thesis (M.P.P.)--Georgetown University, 2010.; Includes bibliographical references.; Text (Electronic thesis) in PDF format. Scientists completed mapping the human genome in April 2003. Since then, the number of genetic tests available to patients and consumers has burgeoned. This revolution has the promise of drastically changing the way that the medical community addresses diseases. However, with the promise of new types of care comes the possibility of exacerbating disparities in healthcare services. If low-income individuals do not have access to, or knowledge of, genetic testing, this could leave them further behind in terms of medical treatment in the future.; This paper examines the relationship between an individual's likelihood of hearing of, or taking, a genetic test and his or her income. Specifically, the paper focuses on genetic tests for various types of cancer, which are among the most widely used and scientifically sound genetic tests available. The paper uses logistic regressions with data from the 2005 National Health Interview Survey, including information from the Cancer Module Supplement, an additional set of questions asked only in the 2005 survey. The analysis tests the hypothesis that people with lower incomes will be less likely to have heard of or taken a genetic test for cancer, controlling for demographic variables, such as education, individual medical history, family history of cancer, access to doctors, and personal attitudes about risk.; The results indicate that people with higher annual family incomes are more likely than those with lower incomes to be aware of genetic testing. The results, however, find limited evidence of a relationship between income and the likelihood of having taken a genetic test among the subpopulation of people who have heard of genetic testing.; In the future, access to genetic testing will likely have large effects on the effectiveness and quality of an individual's medical care. If some portions of the population are not aware of genetic tests they may be left behind. This study suggests that it may be beneficial for policy-makers and consumer advocates to target awareness campaigns towards those portions of the population that are less likely to be aware of genetic testing.
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