Attitudes of Australian dermatologists on the use of genetic testing: A cross-sectional survey with a focus on melanoma

Publication Name

Frontiers in Genetics


Background: Melanoma genetic testing reportedly increases preventative behaviour without causing psychological harm. Genetic testing for familial melanoma risk is now available, yet little is known about dermatologists’ perceptions regarding the utility of testing and genetic testing ordering behaviours. Objectives: To survey Australasian Dermatologists on the perceived utility of genetic testing, current use in practice, as well as their confidence and preferences for the delivery of genomics education. Methods: A 37-item survey, based on previously validated instruments, was sent to accredited members of the Australasian College of Dermatologists in March 2021. Quantitative items were analysed statistically, with one open-ended question analysed qualitatively. Results: The response rate was 56% (256/461), with 60% (153/253) of respondents between 11 and 30 years post-graduation. While 44% (112/252) of respondents agreed, or strongly agreed, that genetic testing was relevant to their practice today, relevance to future practice was reported significantly higher at 84% (212/251) (t = -9.82, p < 0.001). Ninety three percent (235/254) of respondents reported rarely or never ordering genetic testing. Dermatologists who viewed genetic testing as relevant to current practice were more likely to have discussed (p < 0.001) and/or offered testing (p < 0.001). Respondents indicated high confidence in discussing family history of melanoma, but lower confidence in ordering genetic tests and interpreting results. Eighty four percent (207/247) believed that genetic testing could negatively impact life insurance, while only 26% (63/244) were aware of the moratorium on using genetic test results in underwriting in Australia. A minority (22%, 55/254) reported prior continuing education in genetics. Face-to-face courses were the preferred learning modality for upskilling. Conclusion: Australian Dermatologists widely recognise the relevance of genetic testing to future practice, yet few currently order genetic tests. Future educational interventions could focus on how to order appropriate genetic tests and interpret results, as well as potential implications on insurance.

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Australian Government



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