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Title: Genetic literacy among primary care physicians in a resource-constrained setting
Authors: Karam, Pascale E
Hamad, Lina
Elsherif, Mohamed
Kreidieh, Khalil
Nakouzi, Ghunwa
El Asmar, Khalil
Kabakian-Khasholian, Tamar
Curi, Dany Assaf
Yazbek, Soha N
Affiliations: Faculty of Medicine 
Keywords: Continuing education
Health literacy
Healthcare practice
Primary care
Issue Date: 2024-02-13
Part of: BMC Medical Education
Volume: 24
Issue: 1
Genetic literacy among primary healthcare providers is crucial for appropriate patient care with the advances in genetic and genomic medicine. Studies from high-income countries highlight the lack of knowledge in genetics and the need to develop curricula for continuing professional development of non-geneticists. Scarce data is available from resource-constrained countries in Middle East and North Africa. Lebanon is a small country in this region characterized by high rates of consanguinity and genetic disorders like several surrounding countries, such as Jordan, Syria, and Turkey.

The primary aim of this study assessed the genetic literacy, self-perceived and actual knowledge as well as practices among primary care providers in Lebanon. The secondary aim identified their educational needs and proposed evidence-based continuing education programs. A cross-sectional survey-based study, using a self-administered questionnaire, was conducted targeting physicians from Family Medicine, Obstetrics and Gynecology, and Pediatrics. The questionnaire was divided into five sections: demographics, familiarity with genetic tests, self-reported and actual knowledge, genetic practices, and educational needs. Statistics were performed using SPSS v24. The Chi-square test was used for independent variables. Differences between mean scores were measured using paired sample t-tests for groups of two levels and one-way ANOVA for more than two. Multiple linear regression was used to study the variables associated with the knowledge score while controlling for other variables.

The survey included 123 physicians. They were mostly familiar with karyotype as first-tier genetic test. Although 38% perceived their knowledge as good, only 6% scored as such in knowledge assessment. A better knowledge score was observed in academic institutions as well as in urban settings (p<0.05). One third never ordered any genetic testing, mostly due to poor knowledge. Almost all (98%) were ready to attend continuing professional development sessions in genetics.

Our findings show the need to improve genetic literacy among healthcare frontliners, focusing on remote regions and nonacademic centers in Lebanon, a model for other resource-constrained country in the Middle East and North Africa region. This study advances recommendations for evidence-based genetic continuing education programs and highlighted the role of that the few genetic specialists can play in their successful implementation.
DOI: 10.1186/s12909-024-05110-0
Open URL: Link to full text
Type: Journal Article
Appears in Collections:Faculty of Medicine

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