Objectives: The aim of this study was to examine the knowledge of and attitudes on the use of genetic information for medical purposes among the general public of Japan and to identify how the knowledge and attitudes correlate with gender, age and related factors. Methods: A cross-sectional survey using a self-administered questionnaire was conducted from June to July 2004. Stratified random samples of 500 adults aged from 20 to 69 years, living in A-ward, Tokyo, Japan, were analyzed using a χ2 test, t test and discriminant analysis (stepwise method). Results: Findings showed ‘interested in the use of genetic information for medical research’, ‘useful for making effective use of medicine’ and ‘useful for determining disorders to which one may be susceptible in the future’ as the three related factors that influenced discrimination in respondents’ attitudes. Of these, ‘interested in the use of genetic information for medical research’ had a standardized discriminant coefficient of 0.946, indicating greatest relevance to discriminating respondents’ attitudes. The factors ‘useful for making effective use of medicine’ and ‘useful for determining disorders to which one may be susceptible in the future’ exhibited the next highest discriminant relevance. There was no significant difference in gender and age. Conclusions: This study clarified the knowledge of and attitudes on the use of genetic information for medical purposes among the general public of Japan.

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