Background:

Public health calls to ensure equity in genomics and precision medicine necessitate a closer examination of how these efforts might differentially affect access to genetic services across demographic subgroups. This study set out to examine racial/ethnic disparities along the cancer genetic service delivery continuum.

Methods:

Retrospective data are drawn from 15 clinical sites across 6 U.S. States. Individuals who screened at-risk for hereditary cancer were: (i) referred/scheduled to see a genetic counselor (referral workflow), or (ii) offered genetic testing at the point-of-care (POC testing workflow). Logistic regression analyses evaluated the associations between race/ethnicity and several outcomes including appointment scheduling, genetic counseling, and genetic testing, controlling for demographics, clinical factors, and county-level covariates.

Results:

A total of 14,527 patients were identified at-risk. Genetic testing uptake was significantly higher at POC sites than referral sites (34% POC vs. 11% referral, P < 0.001). Race/ethnicity was significantly associated with testing uptake among all sites, with non-Hispanic Blacks having lower odds of testing compared with non-Hispanic Whites [aOR = 0.84; 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.71–1.00; P = 0.049]. Moreover, this disparity was observed at referral sites, but not POC sites. Among patients scheduled, non-Hispanic Blacks had lower odds of counseling (aOR = 0.28; 95% CI, 0.17–0.47; P < 0.001).

Conclusions:

Findings suggest that factors influencing genetic counseling show rates may be driving disparities in genetic testing.

Impact:

Strategies to reduce barriers to seeing a genetic counselor, including modifications to clinical workflow, may help mitigate racial/ethnic disparities in genetic testing.

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