Patients, evidence and genes: An exploration of GPs' perspectives on gene-based personalized nutrition advice

Laura Bouwman*, Herwig Molder, Gerrit Hiddink

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background. Nutrigenomics science examines the response of individuals to food compounds using post-genomics technology. It is expected that in the future, personalized nutrition advice can be provided based on information about genetic make-up. Objectives. Gene-based personalized nutrition advice emerges at the junction of different disciplines and technologies and may directly influence people's lives. Therefore, public concern is to be expected. Because GPs are gatekeepers of health care, their involvement in early stages of the development process is desirable. Method. In 2006, 15 GPs were interviewed to collect their perceived barriers and opportunities towards involvement in gene-based nutrition advice. The interviews were qualitatively analysed with use of Atlas.ti, a qualitative analysis programme. Results. The participants held a mostly critical view towards such personalized nutrition advice. They argued that findings of nutritional studies lacked robustness, were not based on patients' needs and were often equivocal. And that a patient central perspective urges them to question consequences for patients. Participants argued that GPs should be involved in selecting and monitoring patients in nutrigenomics studies. Conclusions. Early involvement of GPs in the development process is needed to allow for the integration of their practical, social and ethical considerations in the technical and scientific agendas. However, the background of their critical attitude towards nutrigenomics-based personalized nutrition, and nutrition advice more generally, has to be explored further. To facilitate a joint learning process and to improve socio-technical decision making with respect to this innovation, initiatives that allow different stakeholders to exchange their perspectives should be organized. a The Author 2008. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
JournalFamily Practice
Issue numberSUPPL. 1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Behavioural sciences
  • Genetics
  • Health promotion
  • Nutrition
  • Qualitative research


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