Open Access Research article

Patient and provider attitudes toward genomic testing for prostate cancer susceptibility: a mixed method study

Wendy C Birmingham1*, Neeraj Agarwal23, Wendy Kohlmann2, Lisa G Aspinwall4, Mary Wang2, Jay Bishoff5, Christopher Dechet26 and Anita Y Kinney23

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Psychology, Brigham Young University, 1054 SWKT, Provo, UT 84602, USA

2 Huntsman Cancer Institute, University of Utah, 2000 Circle of Hope, Salt Lake City, UT 84112, USA

3 Department of Internal Medicine, University of Utah, 30 North 1900 East, Room 4C104, Salt Lake City, UT 84132, USA

4 Department of Psychology, University of Utah, 380 South 1530 East, BEHS 502, Salt Lake City, UT 84112, USA

5 Intermountain Health Care, 5169 Cottonwood St Ste 420, Murray, UT 84107, USA

6 Department of Urology, University of Utah, 30 North 1900 East, Salt Lake City, 84132 UT, USA

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BMC Health Services Research 2013, 13:279  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-13-279

Published: 20 July 2013



The strong association between family history and prostate cancer (PCa) suggests a significant genetic contribution, yet specific highly penetrant PCa susceptibility genes have not been identified. Certain single-nucleotide-polymorphisms have been found to correlate with PCa risk; however uncertainty remains regarding their clinical utility and how to best incorporate this information into clinical decision-making. Genetic testing is available directly to consumers and both patients and healthcare providers are becoming more aware of this technology. Purchasing online allows patients to bypass their healthcare provider yet patients may have difficulty interpreting test results and providers may be called upon to interpret results. Determining optimal ways to educate both patients and providers, and strategies for appropriately incorporating this information into clinical decision-making are needed.


A mixed-method study was conducted in Utah between October 2011 and December 2011. Eleven focus group discussions were held and surveys were administered to 23 first-degree relatives of PCa patients living in Utah and 24 primary-care physicians and urologists practicing in Utah to present specific information about these assessments and determine knowledge and attitudes regarding health implications of using these assessments.


Data was independently coded by two researchers (relative Kappa = .88; provider Kappa = .77) and analyzed using a grounded theory approach. Results indicated differences in attitudes and behavioral intentions between patient and provider. Despite the test’s limitations relatives indicated interest in genetic testing (52%) while most providers indicated they would not recommend the test for their patients (79%). Relatives expected providers to interpret genetic test results and use results to provide personalized healthcare recommendations while the majority of providers did not think the information would be useful in patient care (92%) and indicated low-levels of genetic self-efficacy.


Although similarities exist, discordance between provider and patient attitudes may influence the effective translation of novel genomic tests into clinical practice suggesting both patient and provider perceptions and expectations be considered in development of clinical decision-support tools.

Genomics; Prostate cancer; Cancer screening; Attitudes; Providers