Integrating Genetics Into Primary Care: Family History Is Key

Lorie M. Vandenbusche, RN, MSN, FNP


Topics in Advanced Practice Nursing eJournal 

In This Article

The Future of Genomics in Healthcare

There are ethical, legal, and social implications surrounding genetic advances. Providers must incorporate genetics and genomics effectively and responsibly. Labeling an individual as high or moderate risk may have social, economic, and psychological consequences.[12] Despite these implications and considerations, enormous benefits are possible beyond screening and prevention. Confirming a suspected risk through genetic testing can relieve the anxiety a patient feels from not knowing. Specific preventive interventions may also relieve anxiety through the act of being proactive with regard to one's risk. Americans are generally very supportive of the uses of genetic information to improve their health and the health of their families.

As we look to the future, experts forecast an era in which medicine will be personalized according to our individualized unique genotypes. It is highly conceivable that in the next 10 to 15 years practitioners may order a battery of genetic tests, or even a complete personalized genetic profile, in the same way that a complete blood cell count and metabolic panel are ordered today.

This does not mean that genetic tests will replace taking the family health history. The family history may be more important than ever for determining which tests to order. If genomic variants are identified in one's personal genotype and considered direct evidence in making the case for risk, then family history would be analogous to circumstantial evidence. Both are powerful and have a place in identifying and managing risk.

To locate a genetics professional in your area:


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