Medical students' attitudes toward genetic testing of minors

Sara Hammer Riordan, Lois J. Loescher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to examine attitudes of medical students at a single university toward genetic testing in minors, defining attitudes as willingness to offer testing, and reasons for offering or not offering testing. A survey was distributed to all University of Arizona medical students (n = 428) during the 2003-2004 academic year. The survey consisted of three clinical vignettes concerning genetic testing for Huntington's disease (HD), BRCA1 breast cancer predisposition mutation, and cystic fibrosis (CF) carrier status. For each vignette, students responded to whether they would provide testing for a 7-year-old, a 17-year-old, and their reasons for each age and condition. One hundred thirty-five students (31.5%) responded to the survey. Medical students were significantly more likely to test a 7-year-old for CF carrier status (57%), than they were for a BRCA1 mutation (47%), and an HD mutation (40%). Students were significantly more likely to test a 17-year-old than a 7-year-old in each clinical scenario. Students who had completed a genetics course in medical school were significantly less likely to test a 7-year-old for a BRCA1 mutation than those who had not completed a formal course. Medical students' willingness to perform genetic testing in a minor is influenced by the type of condition, the age of the minor being tested, and the amount of genetics education received in medical school.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)68-73
Number of pages6
JournalGenetic Testing
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2006
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics(clinical)


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