Gender Differences in Attitudes towards Genetic Testing, Risk Interpretation and Genetic Testing Concerns

Author:  Verity Leach
Institution:  University of Glamorgan
Date:  February 2010

This study compares gender differences in attitudes towards prenatal testing, testing in minors, Huntington testing and the creation of designer babies and identifies how risk of genetic disease is perceived by both genders. A questionnaire was developed to explore attitudes towards different types of genetic testing, interpreting risk of genetic disease and concerns relating to genetic testing. A total of 140 people (45 males and 95 females) responded. Respondents, 65 of which were parents, included a wide range of ages and professions. Fourteen percent more females than males thought that it was highly likely (p=0.025) the way they lived their life would be affected if they knew they were going to develop Huntington disease (HD) and fourteen percent more men thought it was likely (p=0.025) that they would alter their child's genes to benefit their personal preferences and lifestyle compared females. Both genders appeared unsure when interpreting numerical representations of risks, different responses were given when interpreting risk perception between ratios and percentages of equal value. Women appeared to be more concerned about the use of genetic test information, particularly about providing information to insurance companies. The study highlights important differences between genders, which may have an impact on health professional's interaction with both male and female clients.