A recent University of Arizona College of Pharmacy study suggests that personal genomic educational testing (PGET), which is thought to have potential as a learning tool in pharmacogenomic education, may offer no significant benefits in terms of improved knowledge or attitudes for PharmD students towards the subject.
PGET, an innovative teaching tool, allows students to receive their own pharmacogenetic test results as a means of learning about pharmacogenomics. PGET is a potentially powerful strategy to meet educational goals by improving student engagement. Although there are many potential benefits of PGET, studies evaluating educational outcomes associated with the tool have not been very rigorous. This is in spite of the fact that understanding PGET’s effectiveness is particularly important considering the financial costs and potential ethical issues associated with extensive genotyping of students.
Until now, most studies on the tool have broadly supported PGET’s ability to improve knowledge, but major limitations exist within these studies. For example, no study has included a randomization of genotyped and non-genotyped groups. Bias was further introduced into these studies because control groups generally choose not to be genotyped or genotyping is performed based on self-selection into elective courses. Furthermore, the small sample size of these studies prevented sufficient ability to evaluate changes in attitudes or educational performance.
Seeking to address these limitations, a study conducted by a team at the UArizona College of Pharmacy assessed the effect of PGET on student pharmacogenomic knowledge. Students were recruited from a pharmacogenomics course offered to third year PharmD students (PHPR 887) and given the opportunity to participate in a study that provided a student’s own pharmacogenomic results at no cost.
The study was led by the PHPR 887 course coordinator Dr. Jason Karnes and a fourth year pharmacy student, Chloe Grace. The non-blinded, randomized controlled trial, recently published in the journal Clinical and Translational Science, found that incorporating PGET during a PharmD course had no major impact on improvement in student knowledge. This study constitutes the most rigorous evaluation of educational outcomes with PGET to date. Although some evidence of improved engagement and participation was observed, the results indicate that PGET has no effect or at least a very limited effect on student’s ability to apply pharmacogenomic-related knowledge. These results have important implications for implementation of PGET in PharmD programs in light of the high cost of genotyping and the potential ethical, legal, and regulatory issues around genotyping of students.
Co-authors include: Chloe Grace; Heidi E. Steiner; Srujitha Marupuru; Patrick J. Campbell; Hayley Patterson; Dorothy Quinn; Walter Klimecki; and College of Pharmacy professors David E. Nix, PharmD, BCPS (AQ-ID), Terri Warholak, PhD, RPh, and Jason H. Karnes, PharmD, PhD, BCPS, FAHA. Learn more about ongoing pharmacogentics resaerch at the UArizona College of Pharmacy at karneslab.org.