Public attitudes towards germline genetic testing for inherited cancers have been found to be generally positive. Past research demonstrated that diverse causal beliefs and contextual factors are associated with uptake of genetic testing. However, it is unclear how beliefs about genetically informed cancer prevention and early detection ultimately shape testing behaviors. We used data from the National Health Information National Trends Survey (HINTS 5 Cycle 4) to evaluate these beliefs and the relationship between beliefs related to cancer genetics and participation in cancer genetic testing. Overall, 5.24% of the total weighted sample underwent cancer genetic testing, of whom 70.5% (n = 141) had no personal history of cancer, whereas others had a personal diagnosis of breast, ovarian, or colorectal cancer (23.0%), or other cancers (6.5%). In adjusted multivariable analysis, testing was positively associated with personal history of breast, ovarian, or colorectal cancer (OR = 28.37, 95% CI: 10.19–79.04), female sex (OR = 2.97, 95% CI: 1.41–6.26), having high cancer worry (OR = 4.78, 95%: 2.19–10.45), and negatively associated with being Hispanic (OR = 0.37, 95%: 0.16–0.86) or non-Hispanic Asian (OR = 0.12, 95% CI: 0.04–0.33). Belief in the importance of genetics for early detection of cancer was associated with testing (OR = 18.03, 95% CI: 4.07–79.79), whereas belief in the importance of genetics for cancer prevention was not. The association between testing and belief about the importance of genetics for early detection of cancer, but not cancer prevention, is a surprising finding that warrants further research. Better understanding of these beliefs and their potential impact on test uptake may inform population genetic testing efforts.
- Cancer prevention
- Early detection
- Genetic testing
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health