Physician Knowledge of Human Genetic Variation, Beliefs About Race and Genetics, and Use of Race in Clinical Decision-making.


College of Education, Health & Society, Miami University, 210 E. Spring Street, Oxford, OH, 45056, USA. [Email]


BACKGROUND : Race in the USA has an enduring connection to health and well-being. It is often used as a proxy for ancestry and genetic variation, although self-identified race does not establish genetic risk of disease for an individual patient. How physicians reconcile these seemingly paradoxical facts as they make clinical decisions is unknown.
OBJECTIVE : To examine physicians' genetic knowledge and beliefs about race with their use of race in clinical decision-making DESIGN: Cross-sectional survey of a national sample of clinically active general internists RESULTS: Seven hundred eighty-seven physicians completed the survey. Regression models indicate that genetic knowledge was not significantly associated with use of race. However, physicians who agreed with notions of race as a biological phenomenon and those who agreed that race has clinical importance were more likely to report using race in their decision-making.
CONCLUSIONS : Genomic and precision medicine holds considerable promise for narrowing the gap in health among racial groups in the USA. For this promise to be realized, our findings suggest that future research and education efforts related to race, genomics, and health must go beyond educating health care providers about common genetic conditions to delving into assumptions about race and genetics.


Clinical decision-making,Genetics,Physicians,Race,

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