Attitudes towards personal genomics among older Swiss adults: An exploratory study

Laura Mahlmann, Christina Rocke, Angela Brand, Ernst Hafen, Effy Vayena*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Objectives: To explore attitudes of Swiss older adults towards personal genomics (PG). Methods: Using an anonymized voluntary paper-and-pencil survey, data were collected from 151 men and women aged 60-89 years attending the Seniorenuniversitat Zurich, Switzerland (Seniors' University). Analyses were conducted using descriptive and inferential statistics. Results: One third of the respondents were aware of PG, and more than half indicated interest in undergoing PG testing. The primary motivation provided was respondents' interest in finding out about their own disease risk, followed by willingness to contribute to scientific research. Forty-four percent were not interested in undergoing testing because results might be worrisome, or due to concerns about the validity of the results. Only a minority of respondents mentioned privacy-related concerns. Further, 66% were interested in undergoing clinic-based PG motivated by the opportunity to contribute to scientific research (78%) and 75% of all study participants indicated strong preferences to donate genomic data to public research institutions. Conclusion: This study indicates a relatively positive overall attitude towards personal genomic testing among older Swiss adults, a group not typically represented in surveys about personal genomics. Genomic data of older adults can be highly relevant to late life health and maintenance of quality of life. In addition they can be an invaluable source for better understanding of longevity, health and disease. Understanding the attitudes of this population towards genomic analyses, although important, remains under-examined.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9-15
JournalApplied & translational genomics
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2016


  • Personal genomics
  • Attitudes of older adults
  • Ethics
  • Personalized medicine
  • Privacy
  • Research participation

Cite this