When participants in the All of Us Research Program, a National Institutes of Health initiative, agree to undergo a genetic DNA test, they will now have the option to receive detailed medical results in the spring of 2022 — all at no cost.
The new feature is one of many implementations the program is rolling out in its third year, with Stephan Züchner, M.D., Ph.D., principal investigator for the All of Us Southeast Enrollment Center, leading the Miller School of Medicine’s regional leadership role.
“Though COVID slowed us a bit, we are powering back up,” Dr. Züchner said. “We have put together an awesome program and team that has doubled our retention rates and invested in our digital efforts.”
Jose Melo, M.S.P.H., senior manager of research support, has led the retention efforts by using COVID information related to mental health, vaccine hesitancy, and daily health practices. In addition, Christina Gladfelter, the communications manager, started using targeting ads and engaging the program’s digital efforts with a diverse series of videos and bilingual posts throughout social media.
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All of Us started implementing another feature in giving willing participants their genetic data back in ancestry information this fall. The results are available online after three months, where participants can view their ancestry map and data along with interesting facts such as if one is lactose intolerant or has cilantro preferences.
Part two of the optional data results will launch next spring, revealing actionable medical news. The data will show any genetic issues, such as cancer risk and medication reactions, among other factors. If any problems are detected, the program will guide participants to their next steps with free resources and genetic counseling if they accept.
“This next phase is exciting, but some hesitancy in not wanting to know medical health information out of fear and concern is expected,” Gladfelter said. “Just as with the previous ancestry information, the basis of our work is privacy and is voluntary.”