Effects of racial and ethnic group and health literacy on responses to genomic risk information in a medically underserved population

Kimberly A. Kaphingst, Jewel D. Stafford, Lucy D.Agostino McGowan, Joann Seo, Christina R. Lachance, Melody S. Goodman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Few studies have examined how individuals respond to genomic risk information for common, chronic diseases. This randomized study examined differences in responses by type of genomic information (genetic test/family history) and disease condition (diabetes/heart disease), and by race/ethnicity in a medically underserved population. Methods: 1,057 English-speaking adults completed a survey containing 1 of 4 vignettes (2-by-2 randomized design). Differences in dependent variables (i.e., interest in receiving genomic assessment, discussing with doctor or family, changing health habits) by experimental condition and race/ethnicity were examined using chi-squared tests and multivariable regression analysis. Results: No significant differences were found in dependent variables by type of genomic information or disease condition. In multivariable models, Hispanics were more interested in receiving a genomic assessment than Whites (OR = 1.93; p < .0001); respondents with marginal (OR = 1.54; p = .005) or limited (OR = 1.85; p = .009) health literacy had greater interest than those with adequate health literacy. Blacks (OR = 1.78; p = .001) and Hispanics (OR = 1.85; p =.001) had greater interest in discussing information with family than Whites. Non-Hispanic Blacks (OR = 1.45; p = .04) had greater interest in discussing genomic information with a doctor than Whites. Blacks (β = -0.41; p < .001) and Hispanics (β = -0.25; p = 033) intended to change fewer health habits than Whites; health literacy was negatively associated with number of health habits participants intended to change. Conclusions: Findings suggest that race/ethnicity may affect responses to genomic risk information. Additional research could examine how cognitive representations of this information differ across racial/ethnic groups. Health literacy is also critical to consider in developing approaches to communicating genomic information.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)101-110
Number of pages10
JournalHealth Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2015


  • Cultural competence
  • Family history
  • Genetic communication
  • Genetic susceptibility testing
  • Health literacy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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