New technology presents difficulties for policy makers in that it is impossible to determine every subsequent impact of a novel technology when it is introduced to society. Direct-to-consumer (DTC) genetic testing exemplifies this problem while presenting the additional complication of having an impact on both individual and public health. Little research has been done on what consumer perceptions of information presented to them are. Some studies have demonstrated a need for further work and expert consensus has identified issues with advertisements but no research has been

done on consumer perceptions.


A cohort of faculty and staff at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) were presented with a screenshot of a website from a leader in the DTC genetic testing industry and asked about their perceptions of the genetic tests presented on that page. The survey was distributed via email and presented using RIT Clipboard software.


103 responses to the survey were received and analyzed. There was a wide range in the answers provided to questions but several themes emerged upon analysis. This population was significantly more educated than the general U.S. population. Many respondents indicated some form of knowledge in science and or technology, either through formal education or work experience. The responses indicated a significant lack of understanding of the information presented by the company. Some respondents demonstrated a misunderstanding of the basic concepts underlying the information

presented and a failure to correctly interpret the advertisement. These results indicate a potential need for policies regarding the structure, content and interpretation of these advertisements. Further research should focus on establishing similar results for other

genetic tests and DTC genetic testing companies as well as developing methodologies to assess retention of information and economic and political acceptance of potential regulation.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Genetic screening--Public opinion; Genetic screening--Marketing--Public opinion; Human chromosome abnormalities--Diagnosis--Public opinion

Publication Date


Document Type


Student Type


Degree Name

Science, Technology and Public Policy (MS)

Department, Program, or Center

Department of Science Technology and Society/Public Policy (CLA)


Deborah Blizzard

Advisor/Committee Member

Ronil Hira

Advisor/Committee Member

Javier Espinosa


Physical copy available from RIT's Wallace Library at RB155.65 .B53 2013


RIT – Main Campus

Plan Codes