Genetic Testing Kits: What to Ask

Jehannine C. Austin, Ph.D. | Sept 12, 2016 April 15, 2017

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What you need to know

If you’re thinking about purchasing a direct-to-consumer testing kit, make sure you understand the limitations. The National Society of Genetic Counselors recommends you ask these five questions.

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Is the test accurate and reliable?

Ask whether the company has a team of experts such as certified genetic counselors, medical geneticists, pathologists, geneticists or biologists, and molecular pathologists.

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What will the test tell me?

Understand what’s being tested—health conditions, ancestry, traits, or drug responses—and how the results will be communicated to you.

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How will my personal information be protected?

Laws protect companies from sharing your data with your health insurers and employers, but they don’t restrict sharing with life, long-term care, or disability insurers. Ask whether data will be shared with researchers, drug companies, or other groups.

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Are genetic counselors available to help me?

Look for a company that makes a specialist available before and after testing. Also ask if this service is included with the cost of testing.

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What if I need more information about my test?

Make sure there’s a way to easily contact the company if you have follow-up questions.