Need to know may drive predictive disease testing

21 January 2011

The survey suggested that in theory people were surprisingly willing to not only undergo but also pay for predictive disease testing for serious adult-onset conditions. One possible flaw is that most people are aware that for some of the diseases in question there are preventative and treatment options (e.g. for breast cancer); however, the majority said they favoured prediction even for Alzheimer’s disease.
One motivation cited for testing was reassurance, suggesting respondents expected a negative result. Of course, there are in practice very few perfectly predictive tests, even for genetic diseases, so that providers offering tests for serious diseases should ensure that people have access to robust pre-test counselling that sets out the full implications of a positive result. Of interest, most respondents also reported they would share information with families and did not seem to be concerned with where their testing data went.