Direct-to-Customer testing is a type of genomic testing sold online. Thus, customers can freely buy a special kit and collect and post their saliva analysis to a DTC company following the instructions. The received result contains data reflecting variants in a person’s genetic code. This information is intended to reveal not only ancestry but also disease propensity. However, interpretation of results might become complex and require professional skills (Oh, 2019). This makes DTC seem to be a controversial and doubtful medical service. One of the pioneers in Direct-to-Customer testing is MyMedLab – a company that provides access to various genetics tests depending on the customers’ preferences.
Direct availability of such testing to the client has both advantages and pitfalls. On the one hand, the DTC can educate customers about genetics in different areas, including disease risks. Moreover, due to the ease of accessing this genetic information without a doctor’s approval, people can get an idea of the possible health risks or simply find out more about their ancestry. On the other hand, most DTC tests focus only on a few variants in the genetic code, thus, representing an unreliable indicator of the likelihood of an illness. Besides, the tendency to health problems is hereditary and is influenced by other factors such as habits, amount of stress, and environment (Oh, 2019). Therefore, without an expert’s assistance, the client may not interpret the test results adequately.
Considering the above, nursing’s role in dealing with DTC testing is crucial. It is not only about interpreting the results, however. Nurses have to be prepared to answer customers’ questions and consider various factors relevant to the individual patient integrating the results into clinical practice (Flowers et al., 2020). Moreover, the role of a nurse is to educate people about the nature of DTC testing, its pitfalls, and its limitations.
Flowers, E., Leutwyler, H., & Shim, J. K. (2020). Direct-to-consumer genomic testing: Are nurses prepared?. Nursing, 50(8), 48. Web.
Oh B. (2019). Direct-to-consumer genetic testing: Advantages and pitfalls. Genomics & Informatics, 17(3), e33. Web.