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Increasing genomic literacy among adolescents

Sabatello, M., Chen, Y., Sanderson, S. C., Chung, W. K., & Appelbaum, P. S. (2018). Increasing genomic literacy among adolescents. Genetics in Medicine. doi:10.1038/s41436-018-0275-2


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Adolescents increasingly need to be “genomics literate,” and may engage more with video educational formats than traditional written formats. We conducted a pilot study to assess and compare the impact of two modes of education about genome sequencing (GS) on adolescents’ genomic knowledge and genomic-related decisions.


Using an online survey, 43 adolescents ages 14–17 years were randomly assigned to watch a video or read a pamphlet about GS. Measures included pre- and postintervention assessment of genomic knowledge, perceived utility of these materials for decisions about participating in genetic research, interest in receiving GS results, and overall satisfaction with these materials. Analyses described results for all participants and compared results between intervention groups.


Self-reported genomic knowledge increased overall (p < 0.001). Postintervention knowledge about GS limitations was higher among video group than pamphlet group participants (p = 0.038). More video group than pamphlet group participants expressed satisfaction with the material’s understandability (45% vs. 29%) and suitability (91% vs. 76%). Interest in receiving personal GS results was significantly associated with being female (p = 0.01) and younger (14–15 years vs. 16–17 years) (p = 0.002).


A video format may be preferable for increasing genomic literacy among adolescents. Further research with adolescents is needed to better understand how gender and age may impact genomic decisions and preferences.