Proof of concept of a personalized genetic risk tool to promote smoking cessation: High acceptability and reduced cigarette smoking

Alex T. Ramsey, Jessica L. Bourdon, Michael Bray, Amelia Dorsey, Maia Zalik, Amanda Pietka, Patricia Salyer, Li Shiun Chen, Timothy B. Baker, Marcus R. Munafò, Laura J. Bierut

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Relatively little is known about the possible effects of personalized genetic risk information on smoking, the leading preventable cause of morbidity and mortality. We examined the acceptability and potential behavior change associated with a personalized genetically informed risk tool (RiskProfile) among current smokers. Current smokers (n = 108) were enrolled in a pre-post study with three visits. At visit 1, participants completed a baseline assessment and genetic testing via 23andMe. Participants' raw genetic data (CHRNA5 variants) and smoking heaviness were used to create a tailored RiskProfile tool that communicated personalized risks of smoking-related diseases and evidence-based recommendations to promote cessation. Participants received their personalized RiskProfile intervention at visit 2, approximately 6 weeks later. Visit 3 involved a telephone-based follow-up assessment 30 days after intervention. Of enrolled participants, 83% were retained across the three visits. Immediately following intervention, acceptability of RiskProfile was high (M=4.4; SD=0.6 on scale of 1 to 5); at 30-day follow-up, 89% of participants demonstrated accurate recall of key intervention messages. In the full analysis set of this single-arm trial, cigarettes smoked per day decreased from intervention to 30- day follow-up [11.3 vs. 9.8; difference = 1.5; 95% confidence interval (0.6-2.4); P = 0.001]. A personalized genetically informed risk tool was found to be highly acceptable and associated with a reduction in smoking, although the absence of a control group must be addressed in future research. This study demonstrates proof of concept for translating key basic science findings into a genetically informed risk tool that was used to promote progress toward smoking cessation. Prevention Relevance: This study demonstrates that personal genetic information can be incorporated into a risk feedback tool that was highly acceptable to current smokers and associated with reductions in smoking. These findings may pave the way for effectiveness and implementation research on genetically-informed behavior change interventions to enhance cancer prevention efforts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)253-262
Number of pages10
JournalCancer Prevention Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2021


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