Genomics--The Perfect Information-Seeking Research Problem

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Consumer Behavior, Genetic Research, Genomics, Health Education, Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice, Humans, Information Storage and Retrieval, Medical Informatics, Patient Acceptance of Health Care, United States

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The intersection of the genetics era and information age poses unique and daunting challenges for health consumers who may not have the health literacy to keep pace. While rapid advances in genetics research promise enhanced care, the inherent complexities and individualistic nature of genetic information have resulted in a challenging information environment. The technical possibilities for acquiring genomic information are increasing at an exponential pace, as are the scientific advances relating to it. Furthermore, societal reactions to genomics, and possible privacy and discrimination issues, may constitute significant constraints. The health care infrastructure also has its limits, given the severe shortage of qualified cancer genetic counselors and general practitioners who are unprepared to address genetics, creating a demand for creative approaches to service delivery. The combination of individual salience, low health literacy, the consumer movement, and important policy problems, then makes genomics the perfect information seeking research problem.

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Journal of Health Communication: International Perspectives, v. 10, issue 4, p. 323-329