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Skepticism is required when covering the science behind genetic tests

About Joseph Burns

Joseph Burns (@jburns18), a Massachusetts-based independent journalist, is AHCJ’s topic leader on health insurance. He welcomes questions and suggestions on insurance resources and tip sheets at joseph@healthjournalism.org.

Photo: Pia Christensen/AHCJCharles Piller, Paul Raeburn and Christopher Robertson (left to right) discussed the science of genetic testing on the first day of Health Journalism 2018.

Health insurers struggle to understand whether genetic tests give physicians actionable information about how to diagnose and treat patients’ illness. If health insurers struggle, then journalists certainly will as well. For example, see this tip sheet that Beth Daley (@BethBDaley) wrote for AHCJ when she was at the New England Center for Investigative Reporting.

Genetic testing holds immense promise, but as speakers explained during the “Science of Genetic Testing” session at Health Journalism 2018, misuse and misinterpretation of these tests have undercut that promise. Continue reading