Barriers and Facilitating Factors for Implementation of Genetic Services: A Public Health Perspective.

Author information

  1. Department of Clinical Genetics, Amsterdam Public Health Research Institute, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, Netherlands.


More than 15 years after the publication of the sequence of the human genome, the resulting changes in health care have been modest. At the same time, some promising examples in genetic services become visible, which contribute to the prevention of chronic disease such as cancer. These are discussed to identify barriers and facilitating factors for the implementation of genetic services. Examples from oncogenetics illustrate a high risk of serious disease where prevention is possible, especially in relatives. Some 5% of breast cancers and colorectal cancers are attributable to an inherited predisposition. These cancers occur at a relatively young age. DNA testing of relatives of affected patients may facilitate primary and secondary prevention. Training of non-genetic health care workers and health technology assessment are needed, as is translational research in terms of bringing genomics to health care practice while monitoring and evaluating. Stratified screening programs could include cascade screening and risk assessment based on family history. New roles and responsibilities will emerge. A clear assessment of the values implied is needed allowing to balance the pros and cons of interventions to further the responsible innovation of genetic services.

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