Last year, Dr Rachel Iredale was invited to the annual conference of the Association of Genetic Nurses and Counsellors (AGNC) to talk about the GAMY (Genetics and Merthyr Youth) Project which is investigating young people’s attitudes to genetics. At that time, we were still collecting data from the project participants, so she was not able to provide much information about our results.

Last week, Nicki Taverner took a poster outlining the project’s findings to this year’s AGNC conference at St George’s Medical School, London. There was a high level of interest from attendees, with several remembering Rachel’s talk from the previous year and wanting to hear the results from the project. We were able to report that the young people’s genetic literacy had increased from participation in the project, as they had developed greater understanding of the relevance of genetics to their health and the confidence to debate genetics issues. They had strong opinions about some aspects of genetics, such as feeling that sex selection of embryos is “wrong”, but were more thoughtful about other areas, such as the severity of a genetic condition that would warrant termination.

Conference attendees were impressed with some of the outputs created by participants to express their ideas about genetics using creative media. One also asked if we had needed to supply a second digital camera to participants, and was pleased to hear that we had not! They were also interested to hear that the project resources are being developed into formats that can be used by community workers to promote better health, alongside other public health strategies.

The conference itself was very interesting, with sessions discussing the use of genetic testing for treatment decisions, talking to children about genetics, the potential impact of previous sexual abuse on genetic counselling clients and the development of a tool to evaluate clients’ assessment of the impact of genetic counselling. It was also a good opportunity to talk to many practitioners working in the field and discuss the future direction of the profession.