Impacts of personal DNA ancestry testing

Caryn Kseniya Rubanovich, Riley Taitingfong, Cynthia Triplett, Ondrej Libiger, Nicholas J. Schork, Jennifer K. Wagner, Cinnamon S. Bloss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Consumer uptake of direct-to-consumer (DTC) DNA ancestry testing is accelerating, yet few empirical studies have examined test impacts on recipients despite the DTC ancestry industry being two decades old. Participants in a longitudinal cohort study of response to health-related DTC genomic testing also received personal DNA ancestry testing at no additional cost. Baseline survey data from the primary study were analyzed together with responses to an additional follow-up survey focused on the response to ancestry results. Ancestry results were generated for 3466 individuals. Of those, 1317 accessed their results, and 322 individuals completed an ancestry response survey, in other words, approximately one in ten who received ancestry testing responded to the survey. Self-reported race/ethnicity was predictive of those most likely to view their results. While 46% of survey responders (N = 147) reported their ancestry results as surprising or unexpected, less than 1% (N = 3) were distressed by them. Importantly, however, 21% (N = 67) reported that their results reshaped their personal identity. Most (81%; N = 260) planned to share results with family, and 12% (N = 39) intended to share results with a healthcare provider. Many (61%; N = 196) reported test benefits (e.g., health insights), while 12% (N = 38) reported negative aspects (e.g., lack of utility). Over half (N = 162) reported being more likely to have other genetic tests in the future. DNA ancestry testing affected individuals with respect to personal identity, intentions to share genetic information with family and healthcare providers, and the likelihood to engage with other genetic tests in the future. These findings have implications for medical care and research, specifically, provider readiness to engage with genetic ancestry information.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)37-52
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Community Genetics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Epidemiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Genetics(clinical)


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