Genetic Susceptibility Testing for Beryllium: Worker Knowledge, Beliefs, and Attitudes

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Background: We sought to gain insight into workers' knowledge, beliefs, and attitudes on the subject of testing for genetic susceptibility to beryllium. Methods: Five focus groups were held with 30 current and former beryllium workers and nine family members. Audio recordings were transcribed and assessed by hierarchical coding using an inductive approach. Results: Some workers were unclear about the distinction between genotoxicity and heritability. A key finding is that they perceived the benefits of a positive test result to be related to enhanced autonomous decision-making. The major concern cited by participants was potential abuse of genetic information by employers. Complete financial separation of a prospective testing entity from the employer was seen as crucial. Conclusions: A window of opportunity exists to create regional partnerships for translational research on genetic susceptibility testing. Such partnerships would involve labor, management, public health scientists, primary care professionals, and other stakeholders. They would be critical to identifying testing strategies that maximize worker autonomy along with the public health advantages of genetic testing.