Genetics and personalized medicine: a comparison of college students' perspectives

Personalized medicine is an emerging practice in health care that promises improvements in disease treatment and prevention. The future of personalized medicine, however, depends on consumers and providers of medicine understanding its worth and becoming interested in it as a new form of health care. In 2010, the University of California, Berkeley recognized this need and implemented the On the Same Page Project. The project gave incoming freshmen and transfer students the opportunity to have genetic testing, participate in personalized medicine-focused seminars, and take a survey related to their experience. This current follow-up study assessed the perspectives of those same students four years later and compared their perspectives to a control population of students at San Francisco State University. The purpose of the study was to assess what impact exposure to genetic testing had on the interest and understanding of genetics and personalized medicine. The student populations differed significantly in their knowledge of and interest in personalized medicine and genetic testing even after adjusting for covariates. The results indicate that previous exposure to genetic testing could have an impact on genetics knowledge but does not necessarily increase awareness of or interest in genetic testing. This study contributes to the expanding literature on the public’s knowledge of genetic testing by providing a better understanding of the factors that influence interest in genetic testing and the perspectives of educated young adults on the emerging field of personalized medicine.