genomics & society

Archive for the ‘Health Literacy’ Category

Fact or Fiction: Analyzing Media Reports about Genetic Testing

Posted by Myra I. Roche on April 5, 2012

One goal of creating this Center for Genomics and Society blog was to encourage communication within and between the Centers for Excellence in ELSI Research (CEERs).  We welcome members of the other NIH-sponsored CEERs (Case Western Reserve University, Columbia University, Duke University, Oregon Health Sciences University, Stanford University, University of Pennsylvania, and University of Washington)  to our virtual conversations and hope to hear from all of you.  We invite you to contribute by submitting comments and/or writing posts.  The “About” page tells how to get started.

The topic of genetic testing has been extensively covered by the media but it can sometimes be challenging to sort out fact from fiction.  One tactic is to obtain information from credible sources.  But that technique backfired for some readers of a recent NPR report.  Usually a very credible source, NPR reported a story about a prestigious new preschool on Manhattan’s Upper West Side that plans to require their tiny applicants to submit a DNA sample in order to be considered for admission.  Why did this story raise some hackles?  Read the article and the comments here and decide for yourself.  It is even more fun, and, interestingly much more convincing, to listen to it, even though essentially the same words are used.  Try it here yourself and tell us if you agree or not.  The familiar sound effect at the very end serves as the biggest clue. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted in Genetic Testing, Health Literacy, media reports | Tagged: , , | 3 Comments »

Health Literacy and Communicating Genomic Information

Posted by Myra I. Roche on November 1, 2011

In a previous post,I focused on how parents’ health literacy impacts their ability to understand and search for genetic information.  This post turns the tables and examines the influence of health literacy on the way health care providers communicate risks.  Does health literacy, or more specifically, numeracy, defined as the ability to use and understand numbers, affect the way physicians communicate risk information?  Using maternal serum screening for Down syndrome as the example, a recent article in Genetics in Medicine looked at how the perceived ease with numbers influenced the communication style of obstetricians and gynecologists who routinely offer this screening.  The article “Physicians’ communication of Down syndrome screening test results: The influence of physician numeracy” can be found here.   The questions asked were: how did these physicians present risks information and did their communication style correlate with their perceived (and actual) numeracy? Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Health Literacy | 2 Comments »

Genomic Health Literacy

Posted by Myra I. Roche on June 14, 2011

Health Literacy and Genetic Information

Health literacy, or rather, health illiteracy, is ubiquitous, correlated with worse chronic illness control, and increased emergency room usage.  As patients take (or are left with) more responsibility for making medical decisions, they increasingly rely on the internet for information, leaving those with low literacy, including parents, at considerable disadvantage.  While all medical specialties have barriers preventing patient understanding, the literacy hurdles in understanding genomic information are indeed so high that even other doctors find them difficult to scale.

What is health literacy and why should we care?  Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Education, Health Literacy | 12 Comments »