Am J Hum Genet. 2023 Nov 2;110(11):1841-1852. doi: 10.1016/j.ajhg.2023.10.001.
Polygenic risk scores (PRSs) hold promise for disease risk assessment and prevention. The Genomic Medicine at Veterans Affairs (GenoVA) Study is addressing three main challenges to the clinical implementation of PRSs in preventive care: defining and determining their clinical utility, implementing them in time-constrained primary care settings, and countering their potential to exacerbate healthcare disparities. The study processes used to test patients, report their PRS results to them and their primary care providers (PCPs), and promote the use of those results in clinical decision-making are modeled on common practices in primary care. The following diseases were chosen for their prevalence and familiarity to PCPs: coronary artery disease; type 2 diabetes; atrial fibrillation; and breast, colorectal, and prostate cancers. A randomized clinical trial (RCT) design and primary outcome of time-to-new-diagnosis of a target disease bring methodological rigor to the question of the clinical utility of PRS implementation. The study’s pragmatic RCT design enhances its relevance to how PRS might reasonably be implemented in primary care. Steps the study has taken to promote health equity include the thoughtful handling of genetic ancestry in PRS construction and reporting and enhanced recruitment strategies to address underrepresentation in research participation. To date, enhanced recruitment efforts have been both necessary and successful: participants of underrepresented race and ethnicity groups have been less likely to enroll in the study than expected but ultimately achieved proportional representation through targeted efforts. The GenoVA Study experience to date offers insights for evaluating the clinical utility of equitable PRS implementation in adult primary care.