Study Identifies Perceived Barriers to Genetic Testing in Optometry

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Perceived barriers to genetic testing in optometry include elevated cost of testing and reluctant patients, according to research presented at AAO 2021.

This article is part of Optometry Advisor’s conference coverage from the 2021 meeting of the American Academy of Optometry, held in Boston from November 3 to 6, 2021. The team at Optometry Advisor will be reporting on a variety of the research presented by the primary eye care experts at the AAO. Check back for more from the AAO Optometry 2021 Meeting..

The perceived barriers by optometry interns regarding the incorporation of genetic testing in their practice include high cost of testing and patient-controlled factors, according to study results presented at the American Academy of Optometry 2021 meeting in Boston. However, after intervention, lack of knowledge in the field became a central focus.

At the first week of their 3rd year and prior to completing their genetic course, 56 optometry interns participated in a survey. They were asked 2 questions: “Which would be the main challenges you foresee regarding the incorporation of genetic testing in your practice? And how would you try to address the challenge(s)?” After their low vision clinical rotation, the interns completed the survey again.

The research team identified 12 thematic codes for perceived barriers (Question 1) and 13 codes for possible solutions (Question 2). They expressed the frequency of each code as a ratio of the total number of hits calculated. At baseline, the top 2 barriers identified were “costs” (.48 ratio) and “reluctant patients” (.16 ratio). After the intervention, “cost” remained the top barrier (21 hits; .28 ratio) followed by “clinician knowledge and Interprofessional Education and Collaborative Practice team” (16 hits; .21 ratio). 

During post-intervention, the theme “clinician-associated barriers” which included codes such as “logistical issues”, “clinician limited expertise”, and “need of collaborators”, ranked first (.39 ratio vs .13 ratio at baseline). The most cited strategy in pre and post intervention was “patient education” (26 hits; 28 pre vs 17; 21 post) followed by “insurance coverage” (14 hits; .15) and “seeking for collaborators” (15 hits; .18) pre and post intervention, respectively. 

“Our pilot study identified a shift in the perceived barriers toward genetic testing from pre to post intervention,” the researchers said.

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Diaz PS, Schmiedecke-Barbieri S, Zhang J. Refocusing barriers to genetic testing in optometry: when molecular biology meets low vision. Poster presented at: American Academy of Optometry 2021; November 3-6 2021; Boston. Board #20.