Natalie Hohmann, PharmD, PhD
Psychosocial Factors Affecting Genetic Testing Decisions in Cancer
About 40% of adults in the United States will be told they have cancer at some point in their lives. But, with improved treatments for cancer, the number of cancer survivors is growing. New and improved cancer treatments include ways to fight a person’s cancer with fewer side effects. Using genetic tests, doctors can tell which of these treatments will work best for someone. However, these genetic tests can be expensive, and insurance may not cover all the costs. Also, the results of the tests might not always change which treatment the doctor would recommend. It is also unclear how someone’s personal values might affect whether they decide to have the genetic testing done. For example, friends’ or family members’ opinions, value of hope, peace of mind from getting the test, fear of the test, and what other people have chosen to do, might all play a role in someone’s decision to get the genetic test done or not. To help, the goal of this project is to look at which personal values might affect people’s decisions to get genetic testing done for cancer treatment, and how these personal values change in different people. First, 80 interviews will be done to ask people about their experiences, beliefs and values that may affect decisions to get genetic testing done for cancer treatment. Interview participants will be recruited from across the United States and be diverse in terms of age, gender, and ethnicity. Second, a survey of 2,400 people from across the United States will be used to look at which personal values are most and least important when making this genetic testing decision. The survey results will reveal how different people “trade-off” between different personal values and testing cost when they make this testing decision. The results of this study can be used to design educational materials to help people think through their personal values when they are faced with making the decision about getting genetic testing for cancer treatment. This can help people to be prepared when talking with their doctor about what matters most to them when making these important testing and treatment decisions and can help people to feel more confident and satisfied with the decisions that are made. In the end, these better decisions can lead to better cancer treatment results and better quality of life for people receiving cancer treatment.
I am very grateful to the PhRMA Foundation for the opportunity to receive funding through the Research Starter Grant in Health Outcomes. This will allow me to start building my research portfolio as an independent researcher and give me the chance to conduct a meaningful research study. This will build my career by connecting me with research collaborators and opening the door to future research opportunities.