Psychiatric Genetics: A Survey of Psychiatrists' Knowledge, Opinions, and Practice Patterns
J Clin Psychiatry 2005;66(7):821-830
© Copyright 2014 Physicians Postgraduate Press, Inc.
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Objective: Knowledge about the genetic
basis of psychiatric illness is growing rapidly, and
psychiatrists may be called upon to incorporate this information
into clinical practice. The goal of this study was to assess
psychiatrists' familiarity with and attitudes toward genetic
Method: We surveyed 844 participants, the
majority of whom were psychiatrists, attending a continuing
medical education course in the fall of 2002 and measured
knowledge, opinions, and current practice patterns in regard to
Results: Responses were received from 352
psychiatrists (54% of those surveyed). Most psychiatrists
correctly answered fewer than half of survey items assessing
general and psychiatric genetic knowledge. While 83% considered
it their role to discuss genetic information with patients and
families, fewer than 25% felt prepared or competent to do so. In
response to hypothetical questions regarding genetic testing, a
substantial proportion of psychiatrists indicated willingness to
use such tests for diagnostic clarification, as well as
presymptomatic and even prenatal risk prediction. The majority of
respondents expressed interest in further genetics education.
Conclusions: Our results suggest that
psychiatrists view genetic information as clinically relevant,
but have limitations in knowledge that may impact the
incorporation of psychiatric genetics into clinical practice.