Lay people's understanding of and preference against the word "mutation".

Department of Speech Communication, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia 30683, USA.
American Journal of Medical Genetics Part A (Impact Factor: 2.05). 11/2004; 130A(3):245-50. DOI: 10.1002/ajmg.a.30264
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Lay understandings of the term "mutation" are explored using three methodologies and three population bases. A community based sample (n = 848) employing a written survey to assess knowledge and understanding indicated good lay understanding of the basic concept of mutation. However, lay people associated mutation with reproductive outcomes, but not with changes in genes across the life span. A student sample (n = 241) employed a written survey to assess connotations of the term mutation. It showed a strong negative response to mutation. A community based sample (n = 120) employing focus groups also showed strong negative reactions to the term mutation and rejection of use of the term mutation in public service announcements (PSAs). The term variation had better response and is recommended as an alternative in genetic counseling and public media.