Tilting at windmills no longer: a data-driven discussion of DTC DNA ancestry tests.

Journal Article (Journal Article)


Discussions about direct-to-consumer (DTC) DNA ancestry tests have to date been based primarily on conjectures, speculation, and anecdotes, despite the industry being more than a decade old. Representative, empirical data on consumer characteristics; motivations and expectations for testing; intended uses for the information; understanding of results; and behavioral and psychological reactions to the tests are absent. Although the 2010 American Society of Human Genetics white paper clarifies the number and some general characteristics of companies marketing and selling DNA ancestry tests, additional data about the industry's practices have been unavailable.


To promote a data-driven discussion of the DNA ancestry testing industry, we conducted a systematic investigation to identify companies selling DNA ancestry tests and conducted an empirical study of the industry's practices using data collected from each company's website.


Here, we present a wealth of data, including an updated directory of companies, marketing slogans, product types and names, range of prices, diversity of reporting and representing results, noted benefits and limitations of testing, and a host of website practices.


The tremendous diversity of tests, information, and practices of companies in the DNA ancestry sector should be considered when policies for best practice guidelines or regulatory oversight are being developed.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Wagner, JK; Cooper, JD; Sterling, R; Royal, CD

Published Date

  • June 2012

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 14 / 6

Start / End Page

  • 586 - 593

PubMed ID

  • 22382803

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC8339991

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1530-0366

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1098-3600

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1038/gim.2011.77


  • eng