Genetics, insurance and professional practice: Survey of the Australasian clinical genetics workforce

Jane Tiller, Louise Keogh, Samantha Wake, Martin Delatycki, Margaret Otlowski, Paul Lacaze

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


In Australia and New Zealand, by contrast with much of the developed world, insurance companies can use genetic test results to refuse cover or increase premiums for mutually-rated insurance products, including life, income protection and disability insurance. Genetics professionals regularly discuss insurance implications with clients and report the issue as a clinical challenge, yet no studies have examined clinical practices or opinions. This study surveyed genetic counsellors and clinical geneticists from Australia and New Zealand to (i) investigate variability in professional practice across the Australasian clinical genetic workforce relating to the insurance implications of genetic testing, and (ii) ascertain views regarding current regulation of the issue. There was considerable variability in training and clinical policies, especially around the communication of insurance implications. Almost half of participants reported receiving no training on the insurance implications of genetic testing, and almost 40% were unsure whether they could adequately advise clients. A number of deficits in professional knowledge and understanding of the issue were identified. Widespread concerns regarding regulation of this area were reported, with < 10% of Australian participants considering current Australian regulations as adequate to protect clients from genetic discrimination. The findings from this study highlight scope for greater education, consistency and professional training on the issue of genetics and insurance in Australasia, and strong agreement about the need for regulatory reform.

Original languageEnglish
Article number333
Number of pages7
JournalFrontiers in Public Health
Publication statusPublished - 23 Nov 2018


  • Australia
  • Genetic counselling
  • Genetic discrimination
  • Genetics
  • Insurance
  • Life insurance
  • Regulation

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