Direct-to-consumer sales of genetic services on the Internet

Sarah E. Gollust, Benjamin S. Wilfond, Sara Chandros Hull

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

119 Scopus citations


Purpose: The increasing use of the Internet to obtain genetics information and to order medical services without a prescription, combined with a rise in direct-to-consumer marketing for genetic testing, suggests the potential for the Internet to be used to sell genetic services. Methods: A systematic World Wide Web search was conducted in May 2002 to assess the availability of genetic services sold directly to consumers on the Internet. Results: Out of 105 sites that offered genetic services directly, most offered non-health-related services, including parentage confirmation testing (83%), identity testing (56%), and DNA banking (24%); however, health-related genetic tests were offered through 14 sites (13%). The health-related genetic tests available ranged from standard tests, such as hemochromatosis and cystic fibrosis, to more unconventional tests related to nutrition, behavior, and aging. Of these 14 sites, 5 described risks associated with the genetic services and 6 described the availability of counseling. Conclusions: The availability of direct sales of health-related genetic tests creates the potential for inadequate pretest decision making, misunderstanding test results, and access to tests of questionable clinical value.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)332-337
Number of pages6
JournalGenetics in Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2003


  • Direct-to-consumer services
  • Education
  • Genetic testing
  • Internet


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