Racial Differences in Perceptions of Genetic Wellness Programs

Forrest Briscoe, Ifeoma Ajunwa, Angel Bourgoin, James Maxwell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Genetic wellness programs (GWPs) are a highly innovative workforce wellness product. Recently marketed to U.S. employers by at least 16 vendors, GWPs take advantage of low-cost DNA sequencing to detect genetic risk factors for an increasing array of diseases. The purpose of this research is to understand perceptions, concerns, and barriers related to GWPs, among employees from Black, White, and Asian backgrounds and different income levels. Approach: Qualitative study with 3 focus groups (FGs). Setting: Employees of large high-technology companies (deemed likely early GWP adopters). Respondents: 21 individuals recruited online through User Interviews. Method: FG guide developed via literature review and landscape analysis, and pre-tested. FGs led by a trained moderator and audio-recorded. Transcripts content analyzed for key themes. Results: Nearly all respondents saw potential benefits to GWP participation for themselves or their families. However, there were profound differences in perceptions of risks to GWP participation between Black and White/Asian respondents. These differences surfaced in three broad areas: privacy and discrimination risks; family impact risks; and feelings about the employer. Willingness to participate in a GWP also varied between Black employee respondents and White and Asian employee respondents (including low-income White employees). Only 27% of Black employees would participate in GWP, compared to 90% of the other employees. Conclusion: Most employees appear likely to support employer adoption of GWPs. However, Black employees report significant concerns regarding participation. Addressing these concerns through program design would benefit all employees, and could increase trust and uptake of GWPs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)940-952
Number of pages13
JournalAmerican Journal of Health Promotion
Issue number7
StatePublished - Sep 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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