New Survey Finds Majority of Americans Want to Know What’s in Their DNA

Findings suggest a growing interest in genetic testing and its role in the future of healthcare

SAN FRANCISCO--()--More than half (53 percent) of U.S. consumers want to know what’s in their DNA, according to a new survey released today by health technology company Counsyl. Yet only seven percent of respondents say that their doctor has discussed genetic screening with them.

“The survey findings speak to the public’s appetite to know what’s in their DNA – something we’re encouraged to see, since early awareness of risk can make a big difference in health outcomes,” said Ramji Srinivasan, co-founder and CEO at Counsyl. “There is still much to be done, though, in helping patients and physicians understand how advancements have made genetic screening cost-effective and results delivery easy to navigate, so that potentially life-changing information can be within everyone’s reach.”

The nationwide survey, conducted by independent research company ORC International among a representative sample of 1,020 adults, explored knowledge of and attitudes toward genetic testing among adult consumers. The strong interest in genetic screening that is evident from the survey can be attributed to a variety of factors, but may point to an interest among consumers in using genetic screening to be more proactive about their healthcare.

What’s more, the perceived benefits of knowing about potential health problems and any impact on future generations outweighs the fear or anxiety of finding out, with only 11 percent of respondents saying they would be scared to find out what’s in their DNA and more than half wanting to find out.

Other notable findings from the survey include:

Few respondents understand that the right time to do genetic screening is before starting a family

The survey found that awareness of the benefits of genetic screening are not lacking, with 78 percent of respondents aware that DNA can tell them if they could pass on genetic diseases to their children, and 70 percent wanting to find out if they could pass on a genetic disease. However, those numbers are in sharp contrast to the 28 percent of respondents who think it should be done before deciding to start a family.

“Just like family characteristics, such as hair and eye color, people can inherit genetic diseases from their parents. In fact, two people who are carriers for the same condition have a one in four chance of passing the disease to their children,” said Shivani Nazareth, Director of Women’s Health at Counsyl. “Pursuing genetic screening before getting pregnant gives couples important knowledge that can make a difference for a family’s well-being.”

Millennials are most interested in their DNA

Younger respondents are the most likely to have thought about finding out what’s in their DNA, as well as to actually want to know what’s in it. Of respondents aged 18-24, 84 percent have thought about finding out what’s in their DNA and of those who’ve considering genetic screening, 76 percent want to know their results. This is in contrast to 44 percent of respondents over 65 who have considered genetic screening and only 32 percent of those respondents who would want to know results.

DNA screening may be poised to become mainstream, but doctors are more apt to talk with patients about family history

While the results show a positive attitude toward DNA information with nearly all respondents (94 percent) believing you should do genetic screening at all, it appears few doctors are speaking to their patients about it. Only seven percent of respondents said that their doctor had discussed genetic screening with them. However, 41 percent of respondents said their doctor has discussed family history with them.

“In most cases where children are born with severe inherited diseases, there was no ‘family history’ known,” said Dr. Jim Goldberg, Chief Medical Officer at Counsyl. “It’s only when two individuals carry a gene for the same disorder that they are at risk of having an affected offspring and only with carrier screening can we identify these couples.”

For more information on Counsyl, please visit

About Counsyl:

Counsyl is a health technology company that offers DNA screening for men, women, and their children. Their philosophy is simple: focus on diseases where advanced knowledge makes a difference in health outcomes, whether it’s changing a behavior, pursuing preventative measures, or simply preparing for what lies ahead.

The Counsyl team includes an accomplished group of problem-solvers — top engineers, scientists, and designers — who are taking the lead on building the modern clinical laboratory. By using automation technology and software to reimagine the clinical lab, Counsyl has unlocked a scalable platform that generates more meaningful health insights for a fraction of the cost at industry-leading speed. Counsyl pairs this high tech approach with a high touch solution for delivering test results: patient reports created with a design sensibility, and supplemented with a genetic counseling service that rivals the top 10 US hospitals.

Counsyl has screened hundreds of thousands of patients and served over 8,000 health care professionals in its CLIA-certified, CAP-accredited and NYS CLEP-permitted clinical laboratory. From the purely mechanical to the profoundly human, Counsyl strives to make DNA screening truly accessible to everyone.


Allison+Partners, for Counsyl
Linda Vejnoska, 415-875-3043


Allison+Partners, for Counsyl
Linda Vejnoska, 415-875-3043