Resource Details

Barriers and strategies to integrate medical genetics and primary care in underserved populations: a scoping review

02/12/2021 6:32pm
Heartland Regional Genetics Network (Heartland)

Despite clinical and technological advances, serious gaps remain in delivering genetic services due to disparities in workforce distribution and lack of coverage for genetic testing and counseling. Genetic services delivery, particularly in medically underserved populations, may rely heavily on primary care providers (PCPs). This study aims to identify barriers to integrating genetic services and primary care, and strategies to support integration, by conducting a scoping review. Literature synthesis found barriers most frequently cited by PCPs including insufficient knowledge about genetics and risk assessment, lack of access to geneticists, and insufficient time to address these challenges. Telegenetics, patient-centered care, and learning communities are strategies to overcome these barriers. Telegenetics supplements face-to-face clinics by providing remote access to genetic services. It may also be used for physician consultations and education. Patient-centered care allows providers, families, and patients to coordinate services and resources. Access to expert information provides a critical resource for PCPs. Learning communities may represent a mechanism that facilitates information exchange and knowledge sharing among different providers. As PCPs often play a crucial role caring for patients with genetic disorders in underserved areas, barriers to primary care-medical genetics integration must be addressed to improve access. Strategies, such as telegenetics, promotion of evidence-based guidelines, point-of-care risk assessment tools, tailored education in genetics-related topics, and other system-level strategies, will facilitate better genetics and primary care integration, which in turn, may improve genetic service delivery to patients residing in underserved communities.


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