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Women's perception, attitudes, and intended behavior towards predictive epigenetic risk testing for female cancers in 5 European countries: a cross-sectional online survey

Wegwarth, O; Pashayan, N; Widschwendter, M; Rebitschek, FG; (2019) Women's perception, attitudes, and intended behavior towards predictive epigenetic risk testing for female cancers in 5 European countries: a cross-sectional online survey. BMC Public Health , 19 , Article 667. 10.1186/s12889-019-6994-8. Green open access

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Abstract

BACKGROUND: Epigenetic markers might be used for risk-stratifying cancer screening and prevention programs in the future. Although the clinical utility of consequent epigenetic tests for risk stratification is yet to be proven, successful adoption into clinical practice also requires the public's acceptance of such tests. This cross-sectional online survey study sought to learn for the first time about European women's perceptions, attitudes, and intended behavior regarding a predictive epigenetic test for female cancer (breast, ovarian, cervical, and endometrial) risks. METHODS: 1675 women (40-75 years) from five European countries (Czech Republic, Germany, United Kingdom, Italy, Sweden), drawn from online panels by the survey sampling company Harris Interactive (Germany), participated in an online survey where they first received online leaflet information on a predictive epigenetic test for female cancer risks and were subsequently queried by an online questionnaire on their desire to know their female cancer risks, their perception of the benefit-to-harm ratio of an epigenetic test predicting female cancer risks, reasons in favor and disfavor of taking such a test, and their intention to take a predictive epigenetic test for female cancer risks. RESULTS: Most women desired information on each of their female cancer risks, 56.6% (95% CI: 54.2-59.0) thought the potential benefits outweighed potential harms, and 75% (72.0-77.8) intended to take a predictive epigenetic test for female cancer risks if freely available. Results varied considerably by country with women from Germany and the Czech Republic being more reserved about this new form of testing than women from the other three European countries. The main reason cited in favor of a predictive epigenetic test for female cancer risks was its potential to guide healthcare strategies and lifestyle changes in the future, and in its disfavor was that it may increase cancer worry and coerce unintended lifestyle changes and healthcare interventions. CONCLUSIONS: A successful introduction of predictive epigenetic tests for cancer risks will require a balanced and transparent communication of the benefit-to-harm ratio of healthcare pathways resulting from such tests in order to curb unjustified expectations and at the same time to prevent unjustified concerns.

Type: Article
Title: Women's perception, attitudes, and intended behavior towards predictive epigenetic risk testing for female cancers in 5 European countries: a cross-sectional online survey
Location: England
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1186/s12889-019-6994-8
Publisher version: http://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-019-6994-8
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author(s). 2019 Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.
Keywords: Attitudes, European women, Female cancer risk, Intentions, Predictive epigenetic testing
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health > Applied Health Research
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > UCL EGA Institute for Womens Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > UCL EGA Institute for Womens Health > Womens Cancer
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10075426
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