Development and Validation of a Comprehensive Genomics Knowledge Scale

Michael D. Linderman, Sabrina A. Suckiel, Nathan Thompson, David J. Weiss, J. Scott Roberts, Robert C. Green

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Genomic testing is increasingly employed in clinical, research, educational, and commercial contexts. Genomic literacy is a prerequisite for the effective application of genomic testing, creating a corresponding need for validated tools to assess genomics knowledge. We sought to develop a reliable measure of genomics knowledge that incorporates modern genomic technologies and is informative for individuals with diverse backgrounds, including those with clinical/life sciences training. Methods: We developed the GKnowM Genomics Knowledge Scale to assess the knowledge needed to make an informed decision for genomic testing, appropriately apply genomic technologies and participate in civic decision-making. We administered the 30-item draft measure to a calibration cohort (n = 1,234) and subsequent participants to create a combined validation cohort (n = 2,405). We performed a multistage psychometric calibration and validation using classical test theory and item response theory (IRT) and conducted a post-hoc simulation study to evaluate the suitability of a computerized adaptive testing (CAT) implementation. Results: Based on exploratory factor analysis, we removed 4 of the 30 draft items. The resulting 26-item GKnowM measure has a single dominant factor. The scale internal consistency is α = 0.85, and the IRT 3-PL model demonstrated good overall and item fit. Validity is demonstrated with significant correlation (r = 0.61) with an existing genomics knowledge measure and significantly higher scores for individuals with adequate health literacy and healthcare providers (HCPs), including HCPs who work with genomic testing. The item bank is well suited to CAT, achieving high accuracy (r = 0.97 with the full measure) while administering a mean of 13.5 items. Conclusion: GKnowM is an updated, broadly relevant, rigorously validated 26-item measure for assessing genomics knowledge that we anticipate will be useful for assessing population genomic literacy and evaluating the effectiveness of genomics educational interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Number of pages13
JournalPublic Health Genomics
Early online dateMay 31 2021
StatePublished - May 31 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 S. Karger AG, Basel. Copyright: All rights reserved.


  • Computerized adaptive testing
  • Genomic literacy
  • Genomic sequencing
  • Informed decision-making
  • Knowledge Measure

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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