General practitioners' attitudes to assessment of genetic risk of common disorders in routine primary care

D McCahon, R Holder, A Metcalfe, S Clifford, P Gill, T Cole, H V Sleightholme, S Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


In 2003, the UK Department of Health set out the genetics white paper, a plan for action and investment with particular emphasis on integration of genetic health care into primary care. Since the delivery of the genetics white paper, there has been little exploration of UK primary care doctors' attitudes towards extending their role to include provision of routine genetics services. We explored explore general practitioners' (GPs) attitudes towards provision of genetic health care including routine family history screening and familial risk assessment for common disorders in primary care using a quantitative, evaluative postal survey. Only 25% (797 of 3160) of the GPs returned a completed questionnaire. Although 32% of GPs supported collection of family history information and 41.5% familial risk assessment, 18% were not willing to offer these services even if training is provided. Of the GPs, 50% stated they recognized when referral to genetics services is appropriate, although 43% felt unprepared to collect family history or assess familial risk. Lack of training within the last 3 years was a significant predictor of feeling unprepared to undertake these activities (OR = 2.53,p = 0.012). A substantial group of GPs remain unprepared or unwilling to provide genetic health care. GPs' attitudes to delivery of genetic health care are significantly influenced by factors such as a lack of evidence of the direct benefits to patients, local guidelines and specialist services. These factors need addressing if delivery of genetic health care is to be incorporated into routine primary care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)544-51
Number of pages8
JournalClinical Genetics
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2009


  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Demography
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Middle Aged
  • Physicians, Family
  • Primary Health Care
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


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