The expectations and realities of nutrigenomic testing in Australia: A qualitative study in Health Expectations

Anna contributed to exploring Australian consumers’ and HPs’ experiences with nutrigenomic testing.
26th February 2021

Background

Consumer genomic testing for nutrition and wellness, (nutritional genomics), is becoming increasingly popular. Concurrently, health‐care practitioners (HPs) working in private practice (including doctors interested in integrative medicine, private genetic counsellors, pharmacists, dieticians, naturopaths and nutritionists) are involved as test facilitators or interpreters. Objective To explore Australian consumers’ and HPs’ experiences with nutrigenomic testing.

Method

Semi‐structured in‐depth interviews were conducted using predominantly purposive sampling. The two data sets were analysed individually, then combined, using a constant comparative, thematic approach.

Results

Overall, 45 interviews were conducted with consumers (n = 18) and HPs (n = 27). Many of the consumer interviewees experienced chronic ill‐health. Nutrigenomic testing was perceived as empowering and a source of hope for answers. While most made changes to their diet/supplements post‐test, self‐reported health improvements were small. A positive relationship with their HP appeared to minimize disappointment. HPs’ adoption and views of nutrigenomic testing varied. Those enthusiastic about testing saw the possibilities it could offer. However, many felt nutrigenomic testing was not the only ‘tool’ to utilize when offering health care.

Discussion

This research highlights the important role HPs play in consumers’ experiences of nutrigenomics. The varied practice suggests relevant HPs require upskilling in this area to at least support their patients/clients, even if nutrigenomic testing is not part of their practice.

Patient or public contribution

Advisory group included patient/public group representatives who informed study design; focus group participants gave feedback on the survey from which consumer interviewees were sourced. This informed the HP data set design. Interviewees from HP data set assisted with snowball sampling.

Citation:

Tutty E, Hickerton C, Terrill B, Middleton A (2021) The expectations and realities of nutrigenomic testing in Australia: A qualitative study on-line.  Available at: https://doi.org/10.1111/hex.13216