Public Attitudes, Interests, and Concerns Regarding Polygenic Embryo Screening

Rémy A. Furrer, Dorit Barlevy, Stacey Pereira, Shai Carmi, Todd Lencz, Gabriel Lázaro-Muñoz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Importance: Polygenic embryo screening (PES) is a novel technology that estimates the likelihood of developing future conditions (eg, diabetes or depression) and traits (eg, height or cognitive ability) in human embryos, with the goal of selecting which embryos to use. Given its commercial availability and concerns raised by researchers, clinicians, bioethicists, and professional organizations, it is essential to inform key stakeholders and relevant policymakers about the public's perspectives on this technology. Objective: To survey US adults to examine general attitudes, interests, and concerns regarding PES use. Design, Setting, and Participants: For this survey study, data were collected from 1 stratified sample and 1 nonprobability sample (samples 1 and 2, respectively) between March and July 2023. The surveys measured approval, interest, and concerns regarding various applications of PES. In the second sample, presentation of a list of potential concerns was randomized (presented at survey onset vs survey end). The survey was designed using Qualtrics and distributed to participants through Prolific, an online sampling firm. Sample 1 was nationally representative with respect to gender, age, and race and ethnicity; sample 2 was recruited without specific demographic criteria. Analyses were conducted between March 2023 and February 2024. Main Outcomes and Measures: Participants reported their approval, interest, and concerns regarding various applications of PES and outcomes screened (eg, traits and conditions). Statistical analysis was conducted using independent samples t tests and repeated-measures analyses of variance. Results: Of the 1435 respondents in sample 1, demographic data were available for 1427 (mean [SD] age, 45.8 [16.0] years; 724 women [50.7%]). Among these 1427 sample 1 respondents, 1027 (72.0%) expressed approval for PES and 1169 (81.9%) expressed some interest in using PES if already undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF). Approval among these respondents for using PES for embryo selection was notably high for physical health conditions (1109 [77.7%]) and psychiatric health conditions (1028 [72.0%]). In contrast, there was minority approval for embryo selection based on PES for behavioral traits (514 [36.0%]) and physical traits (432 [30.3%]). Nevertheless, concerns about PES leading to false expectations and promoting eugenic practices were pronounced, with 787 of 1422 (55.3%) and 780 of 1423 (54.8%) respondents finding them very to extremely concerning, respectively. Sample 2 included 192 respondents (mean [SD] age 37.7 [12.2] years; 110 men [57.3%]). These respondents were presented concerns at survey onset (n = 95) vs survey end (n = 97), which was associated with less approval (28-percentage point decrease) and more uncertainty (24 percentage-point increase) but with only slightly higher disapproval (4 percentage-point increase). Conclusions and Relevance: These findings suggest that it is critical for health care professionals and medical societies to consider and understand the perspectives of diverse stakeholders (eg, patients undergoing IVF, clinicians, and the general public), given the absence of regulation and the recent commercial availability of PES..

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)E2410832
JournalJAMA network open
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Medicine

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