Developing culturally informed genetic services for the Somali immigrants in Minnesota

Fook Yee Cheung, Rebekah Pratt, Abdirashid Shire, Lauren Bigalke, Zahra Ahmed, Heather Zierhut

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Misinformation and distrust often prevent individuals from minority communities to seek adequate healthcare, including genetic services. Immigrants appear to be further burdened by factors that negatively impact their health outcomes and little is known about their experience with genetic services. We sought to identify attitudes and perception of genetic services in one immigrant group, the Somali community of Minnesota and to establish a culturally informed framework for caring for members. A qualitative study comprised of 11 semi-structured key informant interviews was conducted and analyzed using a thematic approach. Main themes emerged from the analysis fell within one of four major topics: (a) Somali views and perspective on genetics and healthcare, (b) barriers to uptake of genetic services, (c) facilitators to uptake of genetic services, and (d) perspective on genetic service delivery subtypes. Somali views and perspective on genetics are often framed by religious and cultural values. These values, at times, conflicted with those common in the American healthcare system. Supports for different genetic service delivery subtypes also varied, ranging from little to no support in prenatal screening to generally positive support for pharmacogenetic testing. Future studies should prioritize topics with support and ways to better provide genetic counseling services within the Somali community.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)887-896
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Genetic Counseling
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 National Society of Genetic Counselors


  • Somali immigrants
  • ethnic minority
  • genetic counseling
  • genetic services
  • genetics
  • health behavior
  • public health
  • qualitative research
  • underrepresented populations


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