My work investigates the impact of the diffusion of genomic information into clinical and public health contexts. I am particularly interested in studying genomic communication relevant to diseases or populations that are stigmatized and/or underserved. I examine these issues both in simulated clinical contexts, and online through social media platforms. I currently have five ongoing or recently completed studies that contribute to these aims. In the clinical context, my colleagues and I have mounted a study to assess the benefits and/or risks of a physician introducing obesity genomics information into clinical weight-management encounters (Weight Management Interaction Study;NHGRI protocol # 11-HG-0238). We are interested in how this information will influence patients health-related attitudes, beliefs, behavior, and patient perceptions of stigmatization. The project also aims to determine whether a physicians patient-centered versus doctor-centered approach to a health care encounter could mitigate or amplify the potential negative and positive consequences of genomic information provision. This study is being conducted in an immersive virtual reality-based clinical simulation in the Immersive Virtual Environment Testing Area. During this reporting year, we have completed a pilot test evaluating the communication efficacy of the virtual doctor (N=20) and completed data collection for the main trial (N=204). We have given one international conference presentation related to the pilot test evaluation. In continuing to examine and inform provision of obesity-related genomic information in clinical encounters, colleagues and I have developed a new study that assesses the impact of patient emotion on these processes. Emotions such as fear and anger arise in these clinical encounters from sources like receipt of risk information and perceptions of interpersonal treatment. Theoretically, the experience of emotion is expected to influence patient interpretation and reaction to genomic information provided by a physician. We have therefore designed and submitted proposals for a two-pronged approach using both an internet-based and an immersive virtual reality-based simulation experiment to address these processes. We anticipate beginning recruitment for this study in 2013. My work has also considered factors that modify patients receptivity to genomic information provided in the clinic for other health conditions. Colleagues and I previously collected data for an immersive virtual reality experimental study assessing the effect of racial concordance between physician and African-American patients on patient reaction to genomic-based cancer risk information (NHGRI protocol # 09-HG-0009). We demonstrated that African-American patients perceptions of their lung cancer risk were more accurate following an information provision session with a doctor who appeared to be Black than a doctor who appeared to be White. In addition, this effect was stronger for those patients who currently smoke. During this reporting year, I have completed a series of analyses, prepared a manuscript that is currently under review, and planned additional manuscripts with collaborators. In addition to my experimental research related to communication about genomic information in the clinic, I also investigate issues around dissemination of genomic information in online, public health-related contexts. My colleagues and I have published on two studies related to this research during this reporting year. The first study was a quantitative coding analysis of publicly available postings on weight loss-themed online forums. This analysis demonstrated that individuals apply the genetic information they encounter through online social media to their own health beliefs and decisions. With this in mind, colleagues and I have also studied opportunities for effectively communicating genomics information to the public through social media. My colleagues and I therefore completed an analysis of blogs that address genetics topics, and assessed the factors that make a genetics blog influential.

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National Human Genome Research Institute
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Cohen, Anne; Perozich, Alyssa; Rajan, Radha et al. (2017) Framed, Interactive Theory-Driven Texting: Effects of Message Framing on Health Behavior Change for Weight Loss. Fam Community Health 40:43-51
Persky, Susan; Ferrer, Rebecca A; Klein, William M P (2016) Nonverbal and paraverbal behavior in (simulated) medical visits related to genomics and weight: a role for emotion and race. J Behav Med 39:804-14
Persky, Susan; Ferrer, Rebecca A; Klein, William M P (2016) Genomic Information may Inhibit Weight-Related Behavior Change Inclinations Among Individuals in a Fear State. Ann Behav Med 50:452-9
Eisenberg PhD, Miriam H; Street Jr PhD, Richard L; Persky PhD, Susan (2016) ""It runs in my family …"": The association of perceived family history with body dissatisfaction and weight bias internalization among overweight women. Women Health :1-16
Beekman, Janine B; Ferrer, Rebecca A; Klein, William M P et al. (2016) Effects of perceived weight discrimination on willingness to adopt unhealthy behaviours: influence of genomic information. Psychol Health 31:334-48
Persky, Susan; Street Jr, Richard L (2015) Evaluating Approaches for Communication About Genomic Influences on Body Weight. Ann Behav Med 49:675-84
Persky, Susan; de Heer, Hendrik D; McBride, Colleen M et al. (2014) The role of weight, race, and health care experiences in care use among young men and women. Obesity (Silver Spring) 22:1194-200
Persky, Susan; Kaphingst, Kimberly A; Allen Jr, Vincent C et al. (2013) Effects of patient-provider race concordance and smoking status on lung cancer risk perception accuracy among African-Americans. Ann Behav Med 45:308-17
Persky, Susan; Sanderson, Saskia C; Koehly, Laura M (2013) Online communication about genetics and body weight: implications for health behavior and internet-based education. J Health Commun 18:241-9
Wagner, L; Paquin, R; Persky, S (2012) Genetics blogs as a public health tool: assessing credibility and influence. Public Health Genomics 15:218-25