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Canadian health care professionals' knowledge, attitudes and perceptions of nutritional genomics

  • Mark Weir (a1), Karine Morin (a1), Nola Ries (a2) and David Castle (a3)

Abstract

Nutritional genomics has reached the public through applications of the Human Genome Project offered direct to consumers (DTC). The ability to pursue nutrigenetic testing without the involvement of a health care professional has received considerable attention from academic and policy commentators. To better understand the knowledge and attitudes of Canadian health care professionals regarding nutritional genomics and nutrigenetic testing, qualitative research in the form of focus group discussions was undertaken. Four key themes emerged: (1) concerns over DTC testing; (2) lack of health care professional competency; (3) genetic scepticism and inevitability; (4) expectation of regulation. Together, they indicate that health care professionals have little knowledge about nutritional genomics and hold contradictory attitudes towards genomics in general, and to nutritional genomics in particular. Respondents argue in favour of a delivery model where health care professionals act as intermediaries. They are also aware of their lack of competency to provide such services. To ensure greater public protection, respondents cite the importance of more stringent regulatory oversight of DTC genetic testing. Whether such an approach is necessary to address the various ethical and social issues raised by nutrigenetic testing remains an open debate.

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Corresponding author

*Corresponding author: Dr David Castle, fax +1 613 562 5215, email dcastle@uottawa.ca

References

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British Journal of Nutrition
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