Direct-to-consumer genetic testing: where and how does genetic counseling fit?

An article by RGC Anna Middleton et al about the increasing availability of home genetic testing kits and whether or not counselling services should be included
11th May 2017

Direct-to-consumer genetic testing for disease ranges from well-validated diagnostic and predictive tests to ‘research’ results conferring increased risks. While being targeted at public curious about their health, they are also marketed for use in reproductive decision-making or management of disease. By virtue of being ‘direct-to-consumer’ much of this testing bypasses traditional healthcare systems. We argue that direct-to- consumer genetic testing companies should make genetic counseling available, pre- as well as post-test. While we do not advocate that mandatory genetic counseling should gate-keep access to direct-to-consumer genetic testing, if the testing process has the potential to cause psychological distress, then companies have a responsibility to provide support and should not rely on traditional healthcare systems to pick up the pieces. 

This article was cited in the 27 August 2017 Sunday edition of The Guardian Science section article: "Warnings over shock dementia revelations from ancestry DNA tests" by Robin McKie.


Middleton A, Mendes Á, Benjamin CM, Howard HC (2017) Direct to consumer genetic testing - where and how does genetic counselling fit? Personalized Medicine, vol. 14, issue 3, pp 249-257, May