Leveraging the utility of pharmacogenomics in psychiatry through clinical decision support: a focus group study

Andrew Goodspeed, Nicolas Kostman, Trenton E. Kriete, Joel W. Longtine, Sean M. Smith, Peregrin Marshall, Wesley Williams, Cheryl Clark & Weston W. Blakeslee Annals of General Psychiatry, volume 18, Article number: 13 (2019)


Pharmacogenomics is starting to build momentum in clinical utility, perhaps the most in mental and behavioral healthcare. However, efficient delivery of this information to the point of prescribing remains a significant challenge. Clinical decision support has an opportunity to address this void by integrating pharmacogenomics into the clinician workflow.


To address the specific needs of mental health clinicians at the point of care, we conducted 3 focus groups with a total of 16 mental health clinicians. Each 1-h focus group was designed to identify the desired clinical decision support features, with a particular interest in pharmacogenomics, and potential negative or unintended consequences of clinical decision support integration at the point of care in a mental healthcare setting. We implemented an iterative design to expand upon knowledge generated in prior focus groups. The results from the guided discussion in the first focus group were used to develop a mental health clinical decision support prototype. This prototype was then presented during the next two focus groups to drive the discussion.


This study has identified main themes related to the desired clinical decision support features of mental health clinicians, the use of pharmacogenomics in practice, and unintended and negative consequences of clinical decision support integration at the point of care. Clinicians desire a more complete picture of the medication history of patients and guidance to choose medications in relation to cost, insurance coverage, and pharmacogenetics interactions. Mental health clinicians agreed that pharmacogenetics is useful and impacts their prescribing decisions when the data are available. Several negative consequences of clinical decision support integration were identified including alert fatigue and frustration using the tool. Several points of contention were related to the integration of the clinical decision support with the electronic health record, including bidirectional flow of information, speed, location within workflow, and potential incompleteness of information.


We have identified general and unique considerations of mental health clinicians with regard to clinical decision support. Clinical decision support that incorporates desired features while avoiding negative and unintended consequences will increase clinician usage and will have the potential to improve the care of patients.

DOI: 10.1186/s12991-019-0237-3

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Resource Topics: Clinical Outcomes Keywords: Pharmacogenomics, psychiatry, medication, mental health