GeneLiFT: A novel test to facilitate rapid screening of genetic literacy in a diverse population undergoing genetic testing

Hila Milo Rasouly, Nicole Cuneo, Maddalena Marasa, Natalia DeMaria, Debanjana Chatterjee, Jacqueline J. Thompson, David A. Fasel, Julia Wynn, Wendy K. Chung, Paul Appelbaum, Chunhua Weng, Suzanne Bakken, Ali G. Gharavi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


With the broader introduction of genomic medicine in research and clinical care, an increasing number of persons are offered genetic testing. Many factors, including genetic literacy, may impact the utilization of genetic results by patients and their families. We developed a rapid, self-administered measure of genetic literacy, called Genetic Literacy Fast Test (GeneLiFT). We next evaluated the association of GeneLiFT scores with the comprehension of limitations of genomic medicine in participants undergoing genetic testing in the NIH-sponsored eMERGE III study at Columbia University Irving Medical Center, New York. All participants underwent genetic screening for variants in 74 actionable genes associated with adult-onset disorders. A diverse cohort of 724 participants completed the survey (60% women, 45% less than 40 years old, and 53% self-reported White non-Hispanic ancestry). The GeneLiFT was validated using known group differences based on education, health literacy, and numeracy, and with questions assessing genetic knowledge. GeneLiFT identified multiple standard genetics terms, that is, jargon, not recognized by more than 50% of participants (including actionability and pathogenicity). Low genetic literacy, identified in 210 participants (29%), was significantly associated with poor understanding of the limitations of genetic testing (p-values < 10–9). This association was independent of education, health literacy, and numeracy levels, highlighting the importance of directly measuring genetic literacy. Low genetic literacy was also associated with low satisfaction with the informed consent process. GeneLiFT is a practical tool for rapid assessment of genetic literacy in large studies or clinical care. GeneLiFT will allow future research to efficiently assess the role of genetic literacy on the clinical impact of genetic testing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)742-754
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Genetic Counseling
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • assessment
  • communication
  • genetic knowledge
  • genetic literacy
  • risk perception
  • screening
  • test


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