Swinburne researchers to examine public trust in genomics in health care

Monday 11 May 2020

people dressed in lab coats with tray of tubes

Genomic medicine uses a person’s own genetic makeup to analyse and understand their disease as part of diagnostic or treatment decision-making about their care.

In summary

  • Swinburne researchers awarded almost $500,000 to examine public concerns about ethical and social issues related to the use of genomics in health care
  • The team will identify segments of the public with distinct concerns about aspects of commercialisation
  • The findings will enable the Genomics Health Futures Mission to develop strategies to promote trust

The Australian Government’s Genomics Health Futures Mission (GHFM) has awarded Swinburne researchers almost $500,000 for a project to examine the public’s concerns about the ethical and social issues related to the use of genomics in health care.

Genomic medicine uses a person’s own genetic makeup to analyse and understand their disease as part of diagnostic or treatment decision-making about their care. The aim is to improve testing and diagnosis for many diseases, help personalise treatment options to better target and improve health outcomes and reduce unnecessary interventions and health costs.

“Research suggests that Australians are at best wary of and at worst totally opposed to industry involvement in genomics research,” says Swinburne’s Professor Christine Critchley, who will lead the research.

Swinburne’s research team will provide the GHFM with the evidence needed to tackle this tension.

“This project will provide an evidence base for the GHFM to guide how best to engage with different segments of the public in relation to different forms of industry involvement,” Professor Critchley says.

The team will identify segments of the public with distinct concerns about aspects of commercialisation, to enable the GHFM to develop strategies to promote trust.

“This funding success demonstrates Swinburne's commitment to highly relevant and impactful health research through our strategic partnerships with industry and government,” says Swinburne Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Enterprise) Professor Bronwyn Fox.

Professor Critchley has an extensive background in developing large national and international public opinion surveys in the areas of public understanding of, and trust in science. She has been a Chief Investigator of the Swinburne National Science and Society Monitor, which provides an annual ‘snapshot’ of public perceptions regarding new technologies in Australia, since 2003.

Genomics Health Futures Mission

The Genomics Health Futures Mission will invest $500 million over 10 years in genomic research. It will improve testing and diagnosis for many diseases, help personalise treatment options to better target and improve health outcomes, and reduce unnecessary interventions and health costs.