R.PHAY1, J. NGEOW1
Nanyang Technological University1
The effect of patients’ socioeconomic status on their decision to undertake genetic testing remains relatively unknown in Singapore. This paper seeks to identify barriers to genetic testing and explore ways to increase uptake rates.
A population of 2,687 patients who visited the Cancer Genetics Service at the National Cancer Centre Singapore between 2014 and 2020 were studied to examine if there was a correlation between their decision to undertake genetic testing and their socioeconomic status, using housing value as a proxy measurement, viz. Housing Index, alongside other factors including financial assistance and age, were analysed. The values of Housing Index were allocated according to the respective monetary values of each category of residential properties.
Amongst patients who did not receive financial assistance, the proportion that undertook genetic testing increased with Housing Index: from 41.7% (Housing Index<2) to 67.2% (Housing Index>6). For patients who received financial assistance, uptake rates of genetic testing were similar across Housing Index tiers.
This study found that in the absence of financial assistance, the decision to undertake genetic testing is negatively correlated to socioeconomic status. There is a need for government intervention to adjust current healthcare policies, in order to provide equitable access to genetic testing for the Singaporean population.