Effective Communication of Molecular Genetic Test Results to Primary Care Providers

Published In: Genetics in Medicine, v. 15, no. 6, June 2013, p. 444-449

Posted on RAND.org on December 06, 2012

by Maren T. Scheuner, Maria Orlando Edelen, Lee H. Hilborne, Ira M. Lubin

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PURPOSE: We evaluated a template for molecular genetic test reports that was developed as a strategy to reduce communication errors between the laboratory and ordering clinician. METHODS: We surveyed 1,600 primary care physicians to assess satisfaction, ease of use, and effectiveness of genetic test reports developed using our template and reports developed by clinical laboratories. Mean score differences of responses between the reports were compared using t-tests. Two-way analysis of variance evaluated the effect of template versus standard reports and the influence of physician characteristics. RESULTS: There were 396 (24%) respondents. Template reports had higher scores than the standard reports for each survey item. The gender and specialty of the physician did not influence scores; however, younger physicians gave higher scores regardless of report type. There was significant interaction between report type and whether physicians ordered or reviewed any genetic tests (none versus at least one) in the past year, P = 0.005. CONCLUSION: For each survey item assessing satisfaction, ease of use, and effectiveness, physicians gave higher ratings to genetic test reports developed with the template than standard reports used by clinical laboratories. Physicians least familiar with genetic test reports, and possibly having the greatest need for better communication, were best served by the template reports.

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