Objective: To examine awareness of the availability of and beliefs about genetic testing for the risk of lung cancer, and to identify factors affecting intention and willingness to use genetic testing for the risk of lung cancer.
Methodology: A cross-sectional design using a paper-based survey was used for data collection. 360 New Jersey residents in commercial areas of three major cities, namely, Newark, Elizabeth and Toms River, in the north, central and southern zones, respectively participated. Participants completed surveys assessing their awareness of genetic testing, their beliefs based on the Health Belief Model, and intention and willingness to use genetic testing for the risk of lung cancer. Responses were coded and descriptive, reliability, univariate, bivariate and regression analyses were conducted using SPSS version 17.0.
Results: 360 (60%) of the 620 New Jersey residents approached participated in the study. Approximately 25% of participants were 18–25yrs old with a college degree, and approximately 50% were female with an annual income of less than $50,000. Almost 40% were Non-Hispanic White, and 66% were nonsmokers without a family history of lung cancer. Only 50% of participants were aware of the availability of genetic testing for the risk of lung cancer, and respondents believed they were only moderately susceptible to lung cancer [M(SD)=25.3 (3.7)] despite considering it a severe condition [M(SD)=11.5 (2.3)]. Overall, the majority of participants believed genetic testing was highly beneficial [M(SD)=15.2 (2.9)] with major concerns primarily about the financial implications of using the test and impact of test results [M(SD)=27.7 (4.9)]. About 65% did not intend to use genetic testing in the near future nor 57% within the next 1year. Almost 40% were somewhat willing to make and keep an appointment for counseling on genetic testing for the risk of lung cancer, with 55.8% willing to take a test if their doctor recommended it. Gender (β=−0.441, α=0.032), education (β=−0.246, α=0.001), smoking habits (β=0.583, α=0.026) and perceived benefit (β=0.174, α=0.000) were significant predictors of intention, whereas only perceived benefit (β=0.304, α=0.000) was a predictor of willingness to use genetic testing for the risk of lung cancer.
Conclusion: Overall, participants reported low intention and moderate willingness to use genetic test for the risk of lung cancer. Perceived benefit was the major factor affecting intention and willingness to use genetic testing, highlighting the importance of the positive aspects of using the test. This study provides useful information for healthcare professionals to counsel patients, for researchers to develop interventions for the public, and for companies to develop marketing strategies.