A new NIH-led study used electronic health records to determine that individuals who undergo genetic tests do not seek significantly more or less follow-up care, Modern Healthcare reports.
The study was published online last week in the journal Genetics in Medicine (Barr, Modern Healthcare, 5/17).
According to NIH, the study is the first to use EHRs instead of self-reported behavior to measure the effect of genetic testing on individuals' health care behaviors.
The study was part of the Multiplex Initiative, a collaborative project involving researchers from NIH's Intramural Research Program, Group Health Cooperative in Seattle and the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit (NIH release, 5/17).
For the study, researchers provided genetic tests to 217 healthy individuals ages 25 to 40 who were covered by a health insurance plan. They recorded the amount of care each individual received one year before the test and compared that with the amount of care received the year following the test (Adams, CQ HealthBeat, 5/17).
They also compared the behavior of those 217 individuals with a group of about 400 other individuals with the same insurance plan who declined the testing offer.
Using patients' EHRs, the researchers found that those who underwent genetic testing did not change their overall use of health care services compared with patients who did not undergo the testing (NIH release, 5/17).
Colleen McBride, chief of the National Human Genome Research Institute's Social and Behavioral Research Branch, said the findings address concerns among health care providers that genetic testing would cause individuals to seek additional tests (Modern Healthcare, 5/17).