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Original Research ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Genet. | doi: 10.3389/fgene.2018.00550

Genetic and genomic consultation: the portrayal of direct-to-consumer telegenetics

  • 1University of Macau, China
  • 2Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand

Telegenetics, the applications of telemedicine in the context of genetic services, is a growing market. One of the recent developments in this field is the use of direct-to-consumer (DTC) marketing to promote and advertise genetic and genomic consultant services to consumers. Using Google.com, we identified providers that promote their telegenetics services online. By analyzing their websites, we identify and examine key points regarding DTC telegenetics: how are telegenetics services portrayed, how informed consent is obtained, and what protections are offered to clients’ personal health information? We found that the portrayal of a wide range of telegenetics services on providers’ websites is extremely positive. The risks associated with the implementation of telegenetics were rarely mentioned. The per appointment fees ranged from $179 to $500 USD. Consent forms were often unavailable and did not cover all of the relevant information. The measures for protecting clients’ personal health information by telegenetics providers were found to be generally inadequate and weak. We concluded that DTC telegenetics may increase patients’ access to genetic counseling with affordable costs. But before further developing DTC telegenetics, more research and regulatory improvements are required to guarantee truthful advertising, ensure informed consent, secure personal health data sharing, and warrant adequate privacy protection.

Keywords: Telegenetics, Direct to consumer, Genetic service, Risks and benefits, Privacy, Informed Concent, Telegenomics

Received: 13 Jul 2018; Accepted: 29 Oct 2018.

Edited by:

Go Yoshizawa, OsloMet – Oslo Metropolitan University, Norway

Reviewed by:

Shiri Shkedi-Rafid, Hadassah Medical Center, Israel
Jane Tiller, Monash University, Australia  

Copyright: © 2018 Du and Becher. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Li Du, University of Macau, Macau, China, stephendu@umac.mo