Direct-to-consumer advertisement of predictive genetic tests
MetadataShow full item record
Advertising of predictive genetic tests (PGTs) is being used by biotech companies as a promotional strategy to influence consumers. Opponents, including regulators and genetic experts such as the human genome project researchers, have criticized this move as purely profit making and have suggested physician intervention to regulate inappropriate use of PGTs. In contrast, proponents claim advertisements to be a resource for consumers to make informed decisions and perform positive health behaviors. In light of recent marketing efforts for PGTs, it is critical to understand consumers’ perceptions and attitudes about PGTs. This study involved a series of qualitative focus groups that elicited consumer opinions about advertising of PGTs, beliefs about test inquiry intent and beliefs about having a prescription requirement for a genetic test. Subsequently, a quantitative web-based study was conducted with 410 participants to examine consumer attitudes, intentions and behavior in response to direct to consumer (DTC) advertising of PGTs. Finally, an experimental study was also administered to 206 participants to investigate the impact of prescription requirement on ad effectiveness variables such as attitudes towards the ad and attitudes towards the genetic test. The results revealed that 57% of the consumers expressed interest in discussing the advertised genetic test with their doctors. Almost 50% were interested in seeking more information about the advertised genetic test. Only 11.2% of consumers actually performed the information search behavior. Consumer characteristics that correlated with test inquiry intent were attitudes about talking to the physician, subjective norms, attitudes about genetic testing, perceived threat, gender and race. Information seeking intent was explained by need for cognition, beliefs about genetic test advertisements, perceived threat of advertised health condition and genetic testing attitudes. A total of 21.1% of the consumers who were interested in looking for more information about the advertised genetic test actually performed the information search behavior. Overall, consumers approved of DTC advertising of genetic tests, believed they had the right to get such information and expressed interest in seeing more advertisements in the future. However, consumers unanimously rejected prescription requirement for genetic tests, primarily due to insurance discrimination and loss of privacy concerns.