Genetic testing and employer-sponsored wellness programs: An overview of current vendors, products, and practices

Whitney S. McDonald, Jennifer K. Wagner, Patricia A. Deverka, Laura A. Woods, Josh F. Peterson, Marc S. Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Employer-sponsored corporate wellness programs have spread despite limited evidence of effectiveness in improving health or reducing costs. Some programs have offered genetic testing as a benefit to employees, but little is known about this practice. Methods: In December 2019, we conducted a systematic Google search to identify vendors offering corporate wellness programs involving genetics. We performed qualitative content analysis of publicly available information about the vendors’ products and practices disclosed on their websites. Results: Fifteen vendors were identified. Details regarding genetic testing offered within wellness programs were difficult to decipher from vendors’ websites, including which specific products were included. No evidence was provided to support vendor claimed improvements in employer costs, employee health, and job performance. Only half offered health and genetic counseling services. Most vendors were ambiguous regarding data sharing. Disclaimer language was included in vendors’ stated risks and limitations, ostensibly to avoid oversight and liability. Conclusion: We found a lack of transparency among corporate wellness program vendors, underscoring challenges that stakeholders encounter when trying to assess (a) how such programs are using genetics, (b) the potential benefits of such applications, and (c) the adequacy of protections to ensure scientific evidence support any health claims and genetic nondiscrimination.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere1414
JournalMolecular Genetics and Genomic Medicine
Volume8
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)

Cite this