“I don't believe it.” Acceptance and skepticism of genetic health information among African-American and White smokers

Erika A. Waters, Linda Ball, Sarah Gehlert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Scopus citations

Abstract

Rationale Effective translation of genomics research into practice depends on public acceptance of genomics-related health information. Objective To explore how smokers come to accept or reject information about the relationship between genetics and nicotine addiction. Methods Thirteen focus groups (N = 84) were stratified by education (seven < Bachelor's degree, six ≥ Bachelor's degree) and race (eight black, five white). Participants viewed a 1-min video describing the discovery of a genetic variant associated with increased risk of nicotine addiction and lung cancer. Next, they provided their opinions about the information. Two coders analyzed the data using grounded theory. Results Pre-video knowledge about why people smoke cigarettes and what genetic risk means informed beliefs about the relationship between genes and addiction. These beliefs were not always consistent with biomedical explanations, but formed the context through which participants processed the video's information. This, in turn, led to information acceptance or skepticism. Participants explained their reactions in terms of the scientific merits of the research and used their existing knowledge and beliefs to explain their acceptance of or skepticism about the information. Conclusion Laypeople hold complex understandings of genetics and addiction. However, when lay and biomedical explanations diverge, genetics-related health information may be rejected.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)153-160
Number of pages8
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Volume184
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2017

Keywords

  • Gene-environment interaction
  • Health communication
  • Information processing
  • Message rejection
  • Tobacco use

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