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Study Highlights Role for Personalized Medicine
Chicago, Illinois

Ten years after the mapping of the human genome, the biologic blueprint that makes each of us who we are, US physicians admit being ill-prepared to address the day-to-day challenges of this rapidly emerging area of personalized medicine. That is one of the surprising conclusions of a landmark study of 800 US physicians conducted by CAHG, a leading professional healthcare communications agency. While 8 in 10 physicians agree that personalized medicine will ultimately influence the medical profession in general and their practice specifically, most also admit that their current knowledge is extremely limited. Only approximately 10% of primary care physicians and cardiologists and 30% of oncologists say that they are very familiar with current issues and advances in personalized medicine.

In addition, physicians express low confidence in their ability to use and apply molecular diagnostics testing within their practice, a particularly concerning issue given the critical role of these tests in personalized medicine. Only about half of primary care physicians and cardiologists are confident in their ability to identify appropriate patients for testing, choose the right test, and understand, interpret, and explain results to their patients. Moreover, all three physician specialties express low confidence in choosing which labs to send tests to, determining if the test is covered by insurance, and knowing which insurance code to use. Despite these concerns, 9 in 10 physicians are interested in learning more about personalized medicine, and 7 in 10 find it inherently interesting, whether or not they will ever be able to apply it in practice.

Concerns About Privacy

A potential barrier to widespread acceptance of personalized medicine is concern among both physicians and consumers about the privacy of genetic information. Approximately 90% of physicians say they are concerned about the potential misuse of genetic information by health-insurance and life-insurance companies, and 6 in 10 express concerns about employers misusing this information. Even potential misuse of such information by the federal government causes concern among half of physicians.

Physicians' concerns about genetic privacy parallel current consumer attitudes. Seven in 10 consumers are concerned about how personal genetic information is stored and who has access to it, according to results of a similar study of US consumers, the Cogent Research CGAT 2010 study, conducted in partnership with CAHG. In fact, consumers are so concerned that 4 in 10 say such concerns would prevent them from having a genetic test.

Although the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) protects Americans from health insurance and employment discrimination based on genetic information, 8 in 10 physicians and consumers are not familiar with this 2008 federal law.

Education Falling Short

"Clearly, the education of physicians and consumers has not caught up with this rapidly emerging field," says Jerry Coamey, Senior Vice President and Practice Leader for Personalized Healthcare at CAHG. "According to our study, only about 20% of physicians received personalized medicine education in medical school, and even among those who graduated within the past 5 years, less than half have received such training. Since the human genome was mapped a decade ago, we found this a bit surprising."

"It is in everyone's best interest for consumers to involve their physicians in the genomics-testing process, but unfortunately, either because they are concerned about privacy or feel their physician has little value to add, consumers are more and more likely to act independently," said Christy White, Principal and Co-founder of Cogent Research.

Physicians want to learn more about personalized medicine and issues such as protections contained within GINA, but institutions and industry seem to be falling short:

Only 20% of physicians currently learn about personalized medicine from pharmaceutical companies, but more than 70% are interested in receiving such information from these companies; a similar gap exists with molecular diagnostic companies (10% vs 70%). Even medical associations are coming up short, with only approximately 20% of physicians using them as a source of personalized medicine information, but with more than 80% interested in receiving such information from them.

"We see this 'interest/information gap' as a tremendous opportunity for healthcare companies and medical associations to be real leaders in accelerating the adoption of personalized medicine into everyday clinical practice by providing the educational programs and information sources physicians say they want," says Coamey.

Personalized medicine, also referred to as genomics-based medicine or molecular medicine, is the utilization of an individual's genomic information for identifying pre-symptomatic risk for developing a disease or condition, screening and diagnosis, disease prognosis and staging, and selection of optimal treatment. For example, genetic markers can help predict whether a person will respond to cancer therapies such as Herceptin (trastuzumab) or whether an anti-platelet drug such as Plavix (clopidogrel) will be effective in a coronary patient.

By helping physicians and consumers make more informed choices about tests and treatments, personalized medicine has the potential to significantly enhance wellness and the treatment of disease, thereby improving overall healthcare.

About the CAHG Study

A total of 800 US practicing physicians (from among oncology, cardiology, and primary care) participated in an on-line study comprising over 120 questions. Participants were screened to represent the physician population in terms of practice setting, location, and gender. To participate, physicians had to have been in practice for at least 2 years and less than 35 years and spend at least 30 hours per week providing patient care.

About CGAT

The fifth annual Cogent Genomics Attitudes & Trends (CGAT) provides an updated understanding of how recent advancements in direct-to-consumer access, legal protections, and increased media coverage have impacted Americans' awareness, acceptance, and preferences for genomics-based benefits, products, and solutions. From personalized nutrition to personalized medicine, the report provides a detailed exploration of the barriers and catalysts to adoption.

About Cogent Research Cogent Research ( helps clients gain clarity, obtain perspective, and formulate direction on critical business issues. Founded in 1996, Cogent provides custom research, syndicated research products, and evidence-based consulting to leading organizations in the financial services and life sciences industries. Through quality research, advanced analytics, and deep industry knowledge, Cogent Research delivers data-driven solutions and strategies that enable clients to better understand customers, define products, and shape market opportunities in order to increase revenues and grow the value of their products and brands.

About CAHG

CAHG ( is one of the largest healthcare communications companies in the world and provides brand acceleration services throughout the lifecycle of a brand, from compound development to patent expiry and beyond, via seven practice disciplines: personalized healthcare strategy and marketing communications; clinical trial acceleration; market conditioning and promotional medical education; managed markets; full-service interactive support through relationship marketing and digital/interactive communications; technology-inspired studio solutions; and specialty and blockbuster global brand acceleration services in the professional healthcare advertising, branding, and promotions disciplines.

CAHG is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Omnicom Group Inc. (, a leading global marketing and corporate communications company. Omnicom's branded networks and numerous specialty firms provide advertising, strategic media planning, digital and interactive, direct and promotional marketing, public relations and other specialty communications services to over 5,000 clients in more than 100 countries.


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