Attitudes and beliefs regarding race-targeted genetic testing of Black people: A systematic review

Ana S. Iltis, Liz Rolf, Lauren Yaeger, Melody S. Goodman, James M. DuBois

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Geographical ancestry has been associated with an increased risk of various genetic conditions. Race and ethnicity often have been used as proxies for geographical ancestry. Despite numerous problems associated with the crude reliance on race and ethnicity as proxies for geographical ancestry, some genetic testing in the clinical, research, and employment settings has been and continues to be race- or ethnicity-based. Race-based or race-targeted genetic testing refers to genetic testing offered only or primarily to people of particular racial or ethnic groups because of presumed differences among groups. One current example is APOL1 testing of Black kidney donors. Race-based genetic testing raises numerous ethical and policy questions. Given the ongoing reliance on the Black race in genetic testing, it is important to understand the views of people who identify as Black or are identified as Black (including African American, Afro-Caribbean, and Hispanic Black) regarding race-based genetic testing that targets Black people because of their race. We conducted a systematic review of studies and reports of stakeholder-engaged projects that examined how people who identify as or are identified as Black perceive genetic testing that specifically presumes genetic differences exist among racial groups or uses race as a surrogate for ancestral genetic variation and targets Black people. Our review identified 14 studies that explicitly studied this question and another 13 that implicitly or tacitly studied this matter. We found four main factors that contribute to a positive attitude toward race-targeted genetic testing (facilitators) and eight main factors that are associated with concerns regarding race-targeted genetic testing (barriers). This review fills an important gap. These findings should inform future genetic research and the policies and practices developed in clinical, research, public health, or other settings regarding genetic testing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)435-461
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Genetic Counseling
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2023


  • African American
  • African ancestry
  • Black
  • ELSI
  • attitudes
  • discrimination
  • disparities
  • ethics
  • genetic screening
  • genetic testing
  • race
  • stigma
  • underrepresented populations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics(clinical)


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