Educational considerations based on medical student use of polygenic risk information and apparent race in a simulated consultation

Published:September 02, 2022DOI:



      To craft evidence-based educational approaches related to polygenic risk score (PRS) implementation, it is crucial to forecast issues and biases that may arise when PRS are introduced in clinical care.


      Medical students (N = 84) were randomized to a simulated primary care encounter with a Black or White virtual reality–based patient and received either a direct-to-consumer–style PRS report for 5 common complex conditions or control information. The virtual patient inquired about 2 health concerns and her genetic report in the encounter. Data sources included participants’ verbalizations in the simulation, care plan recommendations, and self-report outcomes.


      When medical students received PRSs, they rated the patient as less healthy and requiring more strict advice. Patterns suggest that PRSs influenced specific medical recommendations related to the patient’s concerns, despite student reports that participants did not use it for that purpose. We observed complex patterns regarding the effect of patient race on recommendations and behaviors.


      Educational approaches should consider potential unintentional influences of PRSs on decision-making and evaluate ways that they may be applied inconsistently across patients from different racial groups.


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