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Public willingness to participate in population DNA screening in Australia
  1. Jane M Tiller1,
  2. Andrew Bakshi1,
  3. Adam R Brotchie1,
  4. Robert C Green2,
  5. Ingrid M Winship3,
  6. Paul Lacaze1
  1. 1School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Monash University Faculty of Medicine Nursing and Health Sciences, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  2. 2Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  3. 3Clinical Genetics, Royal Melbourne Hospital, Parkville, Victoria, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Jane M Tiller, Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, Monash University, Clayton, VIC 3800, Australia; jane.tiller{at}monash.edu

Abstract

Background Population-based DNA screening for medically actionable conditions has the potential to improve public health by enabling early detection, treatment and/or prevention; however, public attitudes and willingness to participate in DNA screening have not been well investigated.

Methods We presented a scenario to members of the Australian public, randomly selected from the electoral roll via the Australian Survey of Societal Attitudes, describing an adult population DNA screening programme currently under development, to detect risk of medically actionable cancers and heart disease. We asked questions regarding willingness to participate and pay, preferred delivery methods and concerns.

Results We received 1060 completed questionnaires (response rate 23%, mean age 58 years). The vast majority (>92%) expressed willingness to undertake DNA screening. When asked about the optimal age of screening, most (56%) favoured early adulthood (aged 18–40 years) rather than at birth or childhood. Many respondents would prefer samples and data be kept for re-screening (36%) or research use (43%); some preferred samples to be destroyed (21%). Issues that decrease likelihood of participation included privacy (75%) and insurance (86%) implications.

Conclusion Our study demonstrates public willingness to participate in population DNA screening in Australia, and identifies barriers to participation, to be addressed in the design of screening programmes. Results are informing the development of a pilot national DNA screening programme.

  • genetics, population
  • genetics, medical
  • genetics
  • public health

Data availability statement

Data are available on reasonable request. Data collected through the AuSSA is made publicly available via the Australian Data Archive (subject to some embargoes on sponsored questions). A summary of data collected through the current study is included as a supplementary file to this manuscript.

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Data availability statement

Data are available on reasonable request. Data collected through the AuSSA is made publicly available via the Australian Data Archive (subject to some embargoes on sponsored questions). A summary of data collected through the current study is included as a supplementary file to this manuscript.

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Footnotes

  • Twitter @JaneMTiller

  • Contributors Conceptualisation: JMT, PL. Formal analysis: AB, JMT. Methodology: JMT, PL, IMW. Supervision: PL. Writing—original draft: JMT, PL. Writing—review and editing: JMT, AB, ARB, IMW, RCG, PL. Guarantor: PL

  • Funding This study was funded by National Heart Foundation Future Leader Fellowship (102604).

  • Competing interests RG has received compensation for advising the following companies: AIA, Allelica, Fabric, Genome Web, Genomic Life, Grail, Humanity, OptumLabs, Verily, VinBigData; and is co-founder of Genome Medical and Nurture Genomics. PL, JMT, IW and AB are named investigators on and ARB is project manager of the DNA Screen study, which is funded by an Australian Government Medical Research Futures Fund Genomics Health Futures Mission grant no. 2021/MRF2009024.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Supplemental material This content has been supplied by the author(s). It has not been vetted by BMJ Publishing Group Limited (BMJ) and may not have been peer-reviewed. Any opinions or recommendations discussed are solely those of the author(s) and are not endorsed by BMJ. BMJ disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the content. Where the content includes any translated material, BMJ does not warrant the accuracy and reliability of the translations (including but not limited to local regulations, clinical guidelines, terminology, drug names and drug dosages), and is not responsible for any error and/or omissions arising from translation and adaptation or otherwise.