MS in Public Health (M.S.P.H.)
Degree Granting Department
Deborah L. Cragun, Ph.D.
Kathleen Pope, M.D.
Reka Muller, M.S., CGC
Kimberly Skellington, M.S., CGC
athletic performance, DTC, genetic determinism, susceptibility to inj, sport performance, sports genes
Factors that influence the public’s interest in pursuing genetic testing to determine athletic ability are not yet known. The purpose of this study is to compare interest in genetic testing marketed for athletic ability and susceptibility to sports-related injuries among athletes and the general public. Additionally, this study aims to determine if genetic determinism, knowledge and elements of perceived utility influence their overall intention to use the results of such genetic testing. Participants were recruited through social media platforms to complete an online survey measuring their intention to pursue testing under various circumstances, intention to use the results to change sport behavior, and extent to which they perceive information about muscle composition and susceptibility to sports-related injuries to be useful and important. Bivariate analyses compared athletes and the general population and multiple regression identified factors associated with reported intention to pursue testing.
Of the 178 participants, 56 were collegiate or professional athletes. Athletes were more likely to report that they would pursue genetic testing marketed for athletic ability under various circumstances (p=0.004), perceive the importance of such testing to be higher (p=0.006), and were more likely to perceive genetic testing to be useful in predicting sport performance (p=0.005) based on bivariate analyses. Intention to use results (p=0.532) and perceived usefulness of testing for injury susceptibility (p=0.259) were not statistically different across the two groups.
Perceived usefulness of genetic testing for sport performance (p<0.001), and perceived importance placed on such testing (p<0.001) was found to be significantly associated with reported overall intention to pursue testing, while being an athlete was not significant. While younger participants reported a higher overall intention to pursue such genetic testing (p=0.031), other variables (age, gender, race/ethnicity, education, and whether participants have ever had genetic testing for any reason) in the model were not statistically significant.
Results of this study show there is an overwhelming interest in genetic testing marketed for athletic ability - both the general public and athletes expressed wanting to know information regarding injury susceptibility (77.0% and 80.4%) and sport performance (66.4% and 82.1%), respectively. Additionally, this study identified that cognitive components of perceived utility (i.e., perceived usefulness of results and perceived importance of information) are the strongest correlates of overall intention to pursue testing. These findings reveal that both populations have misconceptions in their knowledge of the capabilities of such testing - the majority of participants, 57.6% of the general public (n=68) and 55.7% of athletes (n=29) answered either none or only one knowledge question correctly. Although current genetic testing capabilities remain poor predictors of either injury or sport performance, participants were found to be overly confident about how much information genetic testing marketed for athletic ability could provide.
Scholar Commons Citation
Zimmerman, Katherine L., "The Perceived Utility of Direct-to-Consumer Genetic Testing Marketed for Athletic Ability" (2021). Graduate Theses and Dissertations.