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Physicians Survey on Genetic Testing

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Trial Information

Physicians Survey on Genetic Testing

Research and development in genetic testing for cancer susceptibility genes has advanced
rapidly in recent years, allowing healthy individuals, cancer patients, and their families
to determine if they carry mutations which increase their risk of breast, ovarian, prostate,
colon, and other cancers. Initial efforts have unfolded primarily in academic medical
centers targeting families at high risk for cancer. There is currently no information
available for assessing the prevalence of genetic testing for cancer susceptibility genes at
the national level, or for evaluating the knowledge of and attitudes toward such testing
among primary care physicians. The objectives of this survey are to determine the
utilization of genetic tests by physicians at the national level; to ascertain physician
knowledge of available genetic tests for specific cancer susceptibility genes, to examine
physicians' general attitudes toward testing, and; to explore possible variation in
utilization and knowledge/attitudes by medical specialty, type of practice, year of training
completion, board status, urbanicity, and geographic region. The primary research question
that this survey will address is what is the prevalence of use of genetic testing for cancer
susceptibility among primary care physicians in the U.S.? The survey will also assess
whether there are statistically significant differences in 1) self-reported knowledge,
current use of, and future intentions to use genetic testing for cancer susceptibility, and
2) perceptions of barriers to testing, among primary care physicians by their type and
location of practice, and recency of training. Primary care physicians (general internists,
obstetrician/gynecologist, family and general practitioners) will also be compared with
specialty groups (gastroenterologists, surgeons, urologists) and oncologists with respect to
their use, attitudes towards, and knowledge of, genetic testing for cancer susceptibility.
A questionnaire was administered by mail, telephone, facsimilie or Internet to a nationally
representative sample of 1,251 primary care physicians and specialists. Study participants
are primary care and specialty physicians with active licenses to practice medicine in the
U.S. A data file with personal identifiers deleted will be prepared for statistical
analysis to estimate the prevalence and determine predictors of use and intentions to
genetic tests for inherited cancer susceptibility.

Inclusion Criteria


All physicians in the U.S. commonly considered to be adult primary care practitioners:
family practitioners, general practitioners, general internists, and
obstretrician/gynecologists (excluding physicians who practice only obstetrics).

For comparison purposes, physicians in the specialties of oncology, general surgery,
gastroenterology and urology will also be included since they treat cancer patients and
individuals at high risk for cancer.


Physicians who are retired and/or do not hold active licenses, involved in full-time
teaching, research or administration and not clinical practice, and physicians in training
who are not yet board-eligible for their specialty re excluded from selection for the

Type of Study:


Study Design:



United States: Federal Government

Study ID:




Start Date:

February 1999

Completion Date:

Related Keywords:

  • Cancer
  • Cancer
  • Genes
  • Screening
  • Primary Care
  • Inherited Susceptibility