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Original Article

Knowledge and attitude of physicians, cancer patients, and the public concerning cancer-related genetic tests in Saudi Arabia

Lamia Alsubaie, Abdulrahman Alswaid, Omnia Abdulaty, Ahmed Alfares, Sara Gilvary.


Background: To evaluate knowledge and attitude toward cancer genetic tests (CGT) and cancer genetic counseling for improving underdeveloped CGT services and to achieve a better understanding of how cancer genetic services are being perceived in the Saudi society. Methodology: An electronic survey was conducted targeting three different types of subjects; physicians, cancer patients, and public participants. Characteristics of the study population were summarized as frequencies, means, and standard deviations. The association between two categorical variables was evaluated by the Chisquare test and cross-tabulation. Multiple logistic regression analyses, using a backward stepwise elimination procedure, were performed to examine the potential impact of the variables. All the explanatory variables were calculated using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (16.0) software program. Continuous variables were grouped into ordinal categories to facilitate inclusion in the multiple logistic regression analysis. Analysis of variance was used to measure knowledge scores with different independent variables. Results: The public cohort showed a higher knowledge score than the patient cohort. A willingness to undergo CGT correlated with high knowledge in the public cohort [r (n = 1,083) = 0.12, p < 0.001), but with positive family history in the patient cohort [r (n= 100) = 0.29, p < 0.01]. Attitudes toward CGT were not correlated with a fear of stigma or privacy in the public cohort. The majority of physicians reported an increase in the number of patients seeking CGT and agreed that testing should not be performed without counseling as they would refer to appropriate patients accordingly. Physicians self-reported significant levels of uncertainty regarding CGT, such as qualifications, attitudes toward CGT, and confounding factors. Conclusion: There is an overall positive attitude toward CGT in Saudi society. Public health actions are needed to enhance cancer genetic services for high-risk families.

Key words: Cancer genetic tests, genetic counseling, Saudi Arabia, cancer genetic test knowledge, attitude.

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