Exploring Genetic Numeracy Skills in a Sample of U.S. University Students. Academic Article uri icon


  • Misconceptions concerning numerical genetic risk exist even within educated populations. To more fully characterize and understand the extent of these risk misunderstandings, which have large potential impact on clinical care, we analyzed the responses from 2,576 students enrolled at 2 Southwestern universities using the PGRID tool, a 138-item web-based survey comprising measures of understanding of genetics, genetic disease, and genetic risk. The primary purpose of this study was to characterize the intersection of risk perception and knowledge, termed genetic numeracy (GN). Additionally, we identify sociodemographic factors that might shape varying levels of GN skills within the study sample and explore the impact of GN on genetic testing intentions using both the Marascuilo procedure and logistic regression analysis. Despite having some college coursework or at least one college degree, most respondents lacked high-level aptitude in understanding genetic inheritance risk, especially with respect to recessive disorders. Prior education about genetics and biology, as well as exposure to biomedical models of genetics, was associated with higher GN levels; exposure to popular media models of genetics was inversely associated with higher GN levels. Differing GN levels affects genetic testing intentions. GN will become more relevant as genetic testing is increasingly incorporated into general clinical care.

published proceedings

  • Front Public Health

altmetric score

  • 2.25

author list (cited authors)

  • Bergman, M. W., Goodson, P., & Goltz, H. H.

citation count

  • 3

complete list of authors

  • Bergman, Margo W||Goodson, Patricia||Goltz, Heather HonorĂ©

publication date

  • January 2017