Attitudes of Health Care Professionals Toward Pharmacogenetic Testing

Department of Pharmacology Toxicology, American University of Beirut, Lebanon.
Molecular Diagnosis & Therapy (Impact Factor: 2.89). 04/2011; 15(2):115-22. DOI: 10.2165/11589490-000000000-00000
Source: PubMed


Pharmacogenetics has emerged as a new tool for the optimization of drug therapy. Although the pharmacogenetics concept was first recognized at least 50 years ago, clinical testing to determine pharmacogenetic traits is still relatively rare, and many hurdles are markedly slowing its development. There is a lot of literature and speculation about potential ethical challenges in genetic and pharmacogenetic testing, yet few researchers have actually examined the attitudes of health care professionals regarding the clinical application of these tests.
In this article, we aim to review the current literature on health care professionals' perceptions of the role of pharmacogenetic data and describe the attitudes of medical students when faced with a clinical pharmacogenetic testing scenario.
A group of 59 third-year medical students from the American University of Beirut Medical Center were asked to answer a questionnaire about pharmacogenetic testing after being exposed to a clinical scenario of a patient who was diagnosed with mild Alzheimer Disease (AD) and hence was a candidate for therapy with one of the acetylcholinesterase (AChE) inhibitors.
The students indicated that they would respect patients' confidentiality and inform them about the test results and therapeutic plan, but they would not be as open about bad prognoses. They did not agree on the therapeutic plan that would follow a pharmacogenetic test result and were uncertain about potential patient discrimination in insurability.
Our and others' findings demonstrate the existence and seriousness of several challenges pertaining to pharmacogenetic applications in the clinical setting. Further training and education are needed for health care professionals, since they are the ones who will most probably request these tests in the near future.

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