Date of Award

Spring 2021

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

First Advisor

Jessica Fairey


Primary care providers (PCPs) are often the first opportunity for individuals at risk for a genetic condition to be identified and they must care for patients with known genetic conditions. However, PCPs lag behind other providers in incorporating genetics into their practice. This study aimed to understand which genetics related concepts/topics PCPs (1) find relevant to practice, (2) are currently comfortable utilizing in practice, and (3) desire further education on. A mixed methods survey was sent to internists, family medicine providers, OBGYNs, pediatricians and geriatrics providers in South Carolina via email to assess this information. This included physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants providing care in these fields. A total of 71 complete responses were analyzed.

The survey found that the majority of providers felt 8/13 items analyzed were relevant to their clinical practice. Furthermore, a majority of providers did not feel comfortable utilizing 17/24 items (expanded from the 13 items used when assessing relevancy) in their clinical practice. For the five items that a majority of respondents did not find relevant for practice, they also indicated that they were not comfortable utilizing these items in practice. This suggests a correlation between perceived relevancy and provider comfort, though the exact relationship is unclear. A majority of providers reported their prior genetics education was inadequate for what is needed in clinic on 10/14 items questioned. PCPs were less comfortable reaching out to genetics health professionals than other specialty providers and the majority of providers were unaware vi of 10/13 genetics-based resources available to them. Overall, the study concluded that there are multiple opportunities for genetics health professionals to aid in furthering the education of PCPs, and specific topics per specialty and provider type were identified. Genetics health professionals will need to aid these providers in remedying the education gap, as well as continue to find ways to be more accessible to PCPs.


© 2021, Taylor Mackenzie Kupneski