Primary care providers' experiences with and perceptions of personalized genomic medicine. Journal Articles uri icon

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  • OBJECTIVE: To assess primary care providers' (PCPs') experiences with, perceptions of, and desired role in personalized medicine, with a focus on cancer. DESIGN: Qualitative study involving focus groups. SETTING: Urban and rural interprofessional primary care team practices in Alberta and Ontario. PARTICIPANTS: Fifty-one PCPs. METHODS: Semistructured focus groups were conducted and audiorecorded. Recordings were transcribed and analyzed using techniques informed by grounded theory including coding, interpretations of patterns in the data, and constant comparison. MAIN FINDINGS: Five focus groups with the 51 participants were conducted; 2 took place in Alberta and 3 in Ontario. Primary care providers described limited experience with personalized medicine, citing breast cancer and prenatal care as main areas of involvement. They expressed concern over their lack of knowledge, in some circumstances relying on personal experiences to inform their attitudes and practice. Participants anticipated an inevitable role in personalized medicine primarily because patients seek and trust their advice; however, there was underlying concern about the magnitude of information and pace of discovery in this area, particularly in direct-to-consumer personal genomic testing. Increased knowledge, closer ties to genetics specialists, and relevant, reliable personalized medicine resources accessible at the point of care were reported as important for successful implementation of personalized medicine. CONCLUSION: Primary care providers are prepared to discuss personalized medicine, but they require better resources. Models of care that support a more meaningful relationship between PCPs and genetics specialists should be pursued. Continuing education strategies need to address knowledge gaps including direct-to-consumer genetic testing, a relatively new area provoking PCP concern. Primary care providers should be mindful of using personal experiences to guide care.


  • Carroll, June C
  • Makuwaza, Tutsirai
  • Manca, Donna P
  • Sopcak, Nicolette
  • Permaul, Joanne A
  • O'Brien, Mary Ann
  • Heisey, Ruth
  • Eisenhauer, Elizabeth A
  • Easley, Julie
  • Krzyzanowska, Monika K
  • Miedema, Baukje
  • Pruthi, Sandhya
  • Sawka, Carol
  • Schneider, Nancy
  • Sussman, Jonathan
  • Urquhart, Robin
  • Versaevel, Catarina
  • Grunfeld, Eva

publication date

  • October 2016

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