4 June 2010
The US Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Genetics, Health, and Society (SACGHS) has released a draft report reviewing the status of genetics education of health care professionals, public health providers and consumers. The findings were based on literature reviews and surveys of both professionals and the public. Along with reviewing the status of genetics education, the report outlines some gaps in the education and training needs of these groups and makes recommendations on how to address them. The draft report is open for comment until the end of June.
The report makes seven recommendations including calling upon the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to convene a workshop in order to identify innovative education and training approaches. A particular recommendation to identify education models and programmes that will improve the training of those who serve underrepresented groups is also made. The education and training of health care professionals is believed to be a significant factor limiting the integration of genetics into clinical care. In relation to the public health workforce, the authors recommend “a systematic effort to evaluate the composition of the public health workforce with current job responsibilities related to genetics and genomics and to identify future priorities, such as the potential impact of affordable genomic analysis”.
They also recommend making funding available to endorse and maintain a web-based portal containing information for consumers. They stress the importance of providing information that is understandable at all levels and call on the HHS to support research that identifies methods of providing information which can be used by consumers to make informed health decisions. The report also calls for incentives such as reimbursement for time spent in direct patient care or members of teams providing genetic services in order to encourage investment and resources in developing education and training programmes.