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1.  The role of disease perceptions and results sharing in psychological adaptation after genetic susceptibility testing: the REVEAL Study 
This study evaluates the extent to which psychological adaptation (validated measures of depressive symptoms, anxiety, and test-specific distress) after genetic susceptibility testing is influenced by changes in beliefs about Alzheimer's disease (AD) and sharing of test results with others. Adult children of AD patients (N=269) from a randomized clinical trial involving genetic testing for apolipoprotein E (APOE) provided information before, as well as 6 weeks and 12 months after results disclosure. The levels of adaptation varied highly among participants at 12-month assessment. Participants who learned that they were ε4 negative (lower risk) had a reduction in perceived risk and concern about developing AD compared with those who learned that they were ε4 positive. Those who received results through an extended educational protocol (three in-person visits) had a larger decline in AD concern than those in a condensed protocol (educational brochure and two in-person visits). Increase in AD concern 6 weeks after disclosure was associated with increase in depression scores (b=0.20, P<0.01) and anxiety levels (b=0.20, P<0.01), and higher distress associated with AD genetic testing (b=0.18, P=0.02) 1 year after testing. Increase in perceived risk (b=0.16, P=0.04) was also associated with higher AD genetic testing distress. Sharing the test results with health professionals and friends (but not family) was associated with decrease in depression (b= −0.11, P=0.05) and anxiety levels (b= −0.16, P<0.01), respectively after a year. Enhancing discussion with regard to risks and concerns about AD during pretesting counseling and obtaining support through sharing the results after testing may help facilitate test recipients' long-term psychological adaptation.
PMCID: PMC2988099  PMID: 20664629
susceptibility genetic testing; AD; APOE; results disclosure; communication; risk perceptions
2.  Disclosure of APOE Genotype for Risk of Alzheimer's Disease 
The New England journal of medicine  2009;361(3):245-254.
The apolipoprotein E (APOE) genotype provides information on the risk of Alzheimer's disease, but the genotyping of patients and their family members has been discouraged. We examined the effect of genotype disclosure in a prospective, randomized, controlled trial.
We randomly assigned 162 asymptomatic adults who had a parent with Alzheimer's disease to receive the results of their own APOE genotyping (disclosure group) or not to receive such results (nondisclosure group). We measured symptoms of anxiety, depression, and test-related distress 6 weeks, 6 months, and 1 year after disclosure or nondisclosure.
There were no significant differences between the two groups in changes in time-averaged measures of anxiety (4.5 in the disclosure group and 4.4 in the nondisclosure group, P = 0.84), depression (8.8 and 8.7, respectively; P = 0.98), or test-related distress (6.9 and 7.5, respectively; P=0.61). Secondary comparisons between the non-disclosure group and a disclosure subgroup of subjects carrying the APOE ε4 allele (which is associated with increased risk) also revealed no significant differences. However, the ε4-negative subgroup had a significantly lower level of test-related distress than did the ε4-positive subgroup (P=0.01). Subjects with clinically meaningful changes in psychological outcomes were distributed evenly among the nondisclosure group and the ε4-positive and ε4-negative subgroups. Baseline scores for anxiety and depression were strongly associated with post-disclosure scores of these measures (P<0.001 for both comparisons).
The disclosure of APOE genotyping results to adult children of patients with Alzheimer's disease did not result in significant short-term psychological risks. Test-related distress was reduced among those who learned that they were APOE ε4–negative. Persons with high levels of emotional distress before undergoing genetic testing were more likely to have emotional difficulties after disclosure. ( number, NCT00571025.)
PMCID: PMC2778270  PMID: 19605829
3.  Presymptomatic testing for BRCA1 and BRCA2: how distressing are the pre-test weeks? 
Journal of Medical Genetics  1999;36(12):906-913.
Presymptomatic DNA testing for autosomal dominant hereditary breast/ovarian cancer (HBOC) became an option after the identification of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes in 1994-1995. Healthy female mutation carriers have a high lifetime risk for breast cancer (56-87%) or ovarian cancer (10-60%) and may opt for intensive breast and ovary surveillance or prophylactic surgery (mastectomy/oophorectomy).
We studied general and cancer related distress in 85 healthy women with a 25% or 50% risk of being carrier of a BRCA1/BRCA2 gene mutation and 66 partners in the six to eight week period between genetic counselling/blood sampling and disclosure of the test result. Questionnaire and interview data are analysed. Associations are explored between levels of distress and (1) expected consequences of being identified as a mutation carrier, (2) personality traits, (3) sociodemographic variables, and (4) experiences related to HBOC.
Mean pre-test anxiety and depression levels in women at risk of being a carrier and partners were similar to those of a normal Dutch population. In about 25% of those at risk of being a carrier and 10% of the partners, increased to high levels of general and cancer related distress were found. Increased levels of distress were reported by women who (1) anticipated an increase in problems after an unfavourable test outcome, (2) considered prophylactic mastectomy if found to be mutation carrier, (3) had an unoptimistic personality, (4) tended to suppress their emotions, (5) were younger than 40 years, and (6) were more familiar with the serious consequences of HBOC. Recently obtained awareness of the genetic nature of cancer in the family was not predictive of distress.
The majority of the women and their partners experienced a relatively calm period before the disclosure of the test result and seemed to postpone distressing thoughts until the week of disclosure of the result. The low distress levels may partly be explained by the use of strategies to minimise the emotional impact of a possibly unfavourable test outcome. However, a minority reported feeling very distressed. Several factors were found to be predictive for increased distress levels.

Keywords: genetic testing; cancer; BRCA1/BRCA2; psychological distress
PMCID: PMC1734277  PMID: 10593998
4.  Comparing test-specific distress of susceptibility versus deterministic genetic testing for Alzheimer’s disease 
Genetic risk for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) may be conferred by the susceptibility polymorphism apolipoprotein E (APOE), where the ε4 allele increases the risk of developing late-onset Alzheimer’s disease but is not a definitive predictor of the disease, or by autosomal dominant mutations (e.g., the presenilins), which almost inevitably result in early-onset familial Alzheimer’s disease. The purpose of this study was to compare the psychological impact of using these two different types of genetic information to disclose genetic risk for AD to family members of affected patients.
Data were compared from two separate protocols. The Risk Evaluation and Education for Alzheimer’s Disease (REVEAL) Study is a randomized, multi-site clinical trial that evaluated the impact of susceptibility testing for Alzheimer’s disease with APOE in 101 adult children of Alzheimer’s disease patients. A separate study, conducted at the University of Washington, assessed the impact of deterministic genetic testing by disclosing presenilin-1, presenilin-2, or TAU genotype to 22 individuals at risk for familial Alzheimer’s disease or frontotemporal dementia. In both protocols, participants received genetic counseling and completed the Impact of Event Scale (IES), a measure of test-specific distress. Scores were analyzed at the time point closest to one year post-disclosure at which IES data were available. The role of genetic test result (positive vs. negative) and type of genetic testing (deterministic vs. susceptibility) in predicting log-transformed IES scores was assessed with linear regression, controlling for age, gender, and time from disclosure.
Subjects from the REVEAL Study who learned that they were positive for the susceptibility gene APOE ε4+ experienced similar, low levels of test-specific distress compared to those who received positive results of deterministic testing in the University of Washington study (p= 0.78). APOE ε4+ individuals in the susceptibility protocol experienced more test-specific distress than those who tested ε4− in the same study (p= 0.04); however, among those receiving deterministic test disclosure, the subjects who received positive results did not experience significantly higher levels of distress when compared to those who received negative results (p= 0.88).
The findings of this preliminary study, with limited sample size, suggest that the test-related distress experienced by those receiving positive results for a deterministic mutation is similar to the distress experienced by those receiving positive results from genetic susceptibility testing, and that the majority of participants receiving genotype disclosure do not experience clinically significant distress as indicated by IES scores one year after learning of their test results.
PMCID: PMC2610442  PMID: 19012865
genetic susceptibility testing; deterministic testing; Alzheimer’s disease; APOE; genetic counseling
5.  Distress among Women Receiving Uninformative BRCA1/2 Results: 12-month Outcomes 
Psycho-oncology  2009;18(10):1088-1096.
Few data are available regarding the long-term psychological impact of uninformative BRCA1/2 test results. This study examines change in distress from pretesting to 12-months post-disclosure, with medical, family history, and psychological variables, such as pretesting perceived risk of carrying a deleterious mutation prior to testing and primary and secondary appraisals, as predictors.
209 women with uninformative BRCA1/2 test results completed questionnaires at pretesting and 1-, 6-, and 12-months post-disclosure, including measures of anxiety and depression, cancer-specific and genetic testing distress. We used a mixed models approach to predict change in post-disclosure distress.
Distress declined from pretesting to 1-month post-disclosure, but remained stable thereafter. Primary appraisals predicted all types of distress at 1-month post-disclosure. Primary and secondary appraisals predicted genetic testing distress at 1-month as well as change over time. Receiving a variant of uncertain clinical significance (VUCS) and entering testing with a high expectation for carrying a deleterious mutation predicted genetic testing distress that persisted through the year after testing.
As a whole, women receiving uninformative BRCA1/2 test results are a resilient group. For some women, distress experienced in the month after testing does not dissipate. Variables, such as heightened pretesting perceived risk and cognitive appraisals, predict greater likelihood for sustained distress in this group and could be amenable to intervention.
PMCID: PMC3503506  PMID: 19214961
6.  Hopefulness predicts resilience after hereditary colorectal cancer genetic testing: a prospective outcome trajectories study 
BMC Cancer  2010;10:279.
Background -
Genetic testing for hereditary colorectal cancer (HCRC) had significant psychological consequences for test recipients. This prospective longitudinal study investigated the factors that predict psychological resilience in adults undergoing genetic testing for HCRC.
Methods -
A longitudinal study was carried out from April 2003 to August 2006 on Hong Kong Chinese HCRC family members who were recruited and offered genetic testing by the Hereditary Gastrointestinal Cancer Registry to determine psychological outcomes after genetic testing. Self-completed questionnaires were administered immediately before (pre-disclosure baseline) and 2 weeks, 4 months and 1 year after result disclosure. Using validated psychological inventories, the cognitive style of hope was measured at baseline, and the psychological distress of depression and anxiety was measured at all time points.
Results -
Of the 76 participating subjects, 71 individuals (43 men and 28 women; mean age 38.9 ± 9.2 years) from nine FAP and 24 HNPCC families completed the study, including 39 mutated gene carriers. Four patterns of outcome trajectories were created using established norms for the specified outcome measures of depression and anxiety. These included chronic dysfunction (13% and 8.7%), recovery (0% and 4.3%), delayed dysfunction (13% and 15.9%) and resilience (76.8% and 66.7%). Two logistic regression analyses were conducted using hope at baseline to predict resilience, with depression and anxiety employed as outcome indicators. Because of the small number of participants, the chronic dysfunction and delayed dysfunction groups were combined into a non-resilient group for comparison with the resilient group in all subsequent analysis. Because of low frequencies, participants exhibiting a recovery trajectory (n = 3 for anxiety and n = 0 for depression) were excluded from further analysis. Both regression equations were significant. Baseline hope was a significant predictor of a resilience outcome trajectory for depression (B = -0.24, p < 0.01 for depression); and anxiety (B = -0.11, p = 0.05 for anxiety).
Conclusions -
The current findings suggest that hopefulness may predict resilience after HCRC genetic testing in Hong Kong Chinese. Interventions to increase the level of hope may be beneficial to the psychological adjustment of CRC genetic testing recipients.
PMCID: PMC2891641  PMID: 20537192
7.  Genetic testing of newborns for type 1 diabetes susceptibility: a prospective cohort study on effects on maternal mental health 
BMC Medical Genetics  2010;11:112.
Concerns about the general psychological impact of genetic testing have been raised. In the Environmental Triggers of Type 1 Diabetes (MIDIA) study, genetic testing was performed for HLA-conferred type 1 diabetes susceptibility among Norwegian newborns. The present study assessed whether mothers of children who test positively suffer from poorer mental health and well-being after receiving genetic risk information about their children.
The study was based on questionnaire data from the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort (MoBa) study conducted by the Norwegian Institute of Public Health. Many of the mothers in the MoBa study also took part in the MIDIA study, in which their newborn children were tested for HLA-conferred genetic susceptibility for type 1 diabetes. We used MoBa questionnaire data from the 30th week of pregnancy (baseline) and 6 months post-partum (3-3.5 months after disclosure of test results). We measured maternal symptoms of anxiety and depression (SCL-8), maternal self-esteem (RSES), and satisfaction with life (SWLS). The mothers also reported whether they were seriously worried about their child 6 months post-partum. We compared questionnaire data from mothers who had received information about having a newborn with high genetic risk for type 1 diabetes (N = 166) with data from mothers who were informed that their baby did not have a high-risk genotype (N = 7224). The association between genetic risk information and maternal mental health was analysed using multiple linear regression analysis, controlling for baseline mental health scores.
Information on genetic risk in newborns was found to have no significant impact on maternal symptoms of anxiety and depression (p = 0.9), self-esteem (p = 0.2), satisfaction with life (p = 0.2), or serious worry about their child (OR = 0.98, 95% CI 0.64-1.48). Mental health before birth was strongly associated with mental health after birth. In addition, an increased risk of maternal worry was found if the mother herself had type 1 diabetes (OR = 2.39, 95% CI 1.2-4.78).
This study did not find evidence supporting the notion that genetic risk information about newborns has a negative impact on the mental health of Norwegian mothers.
PMCID: PMC3152763  PMID: 20630116
8.  Randomized Controlled Trial of a Psychosocial Telephone Counseling Intervention in BRCA1 and BRCA2 Mutation Carriers 
Responses following BRCA1/2 genetic testing are relevant for comprehension of risk status and may play a role in risk management decision making. The objective of this study was to evaluate a Psychosocial Telephone Counseling (PTC) intervention delivered to BRCA1/2 mutation carriers following standard genetic counseling (SGC). We examined the impact of the intervention on distress and concerns related to genetic testing.
Patients and Methods
This prospective randomized clinical trial included 90 BRCA1/2 mutation carriers. We measured anxiety, depression, and genetic testing distress outcomes at intervention baseline and 6- and 12-months following disclosure. We evaluated the effects of SGC versus SGC plus PTC on psychological outcomes using intention-to-treat analyses through Generalized Estimating Equations.
At 6 months, PTC reduced depressive symptoms (Z = −2.25, P = .02) and genetic testing distress (Z = 2.18, P = .02) compared to standard genetic counseling. Further, women in the intervention condition reported less clinically-significant anxiety at 6 months (χ21 = 4.11, P = .04) than women who received SGC. We found no differences in outcomes between the intervention groups at the 12-month follow-up.
As an adjunct to SGC, psychosocial telephone counseling delivered following disclosure of positive BRCA1/2 test results appears to offer modest benefits for distress and anxiety. These results build upon a growing literature of psychosocial interventions for BRCA1/2 carriers and, given the potential impact of affect on risk management decision making, suggest that some carriers may derive benefits from adjuncts to traditional genetic counseling.
PMCID: PMC2849295  PMID: 20200423
Psychosocial intervention; BRCA1/2 mutation carriers; telephone counseling
9.  Breathlessness With Pulmonary Metastases: A Multimodal Approach 
Case Study 
Sarah is a 58-year-old breast cancer survivor, social worker, and health-care administrator at a long-term care facility. She lives with her husband and enjoys gardening and reading. She has two grown children and three grandchildren who live approximately 180 miles away.
One morning while showering, Sarah detected a painless quarter-sized lump on her inner thigh. While she thought it was unusual, she felt it would probably go away. One month later, she felt the lump again; she thought that it had grown, so she scheduled a visit with her primary care physician. A CT scan revealed a 6.2-cm soft-tissue mass in the left groin. She was referred to an oncologic surgeon and underwent an excision of the groin mass. Pathology revealed a grade 3 malignant melanoma. She was later tested and found to have BRAF-negative status. Following her recovery from surgery, Sarah was further evaluated with an MRI scan of the brain, which was negative, and a PET scan, which revealed two nodules in the left lung.
As Sarah had attended a cancer support group during her breast cancer treatment in the past, she decided to go back to the group when she learned of her melanoma diagnosis. While the treatment options for her lung lesions included interleukin-2, ipilimumab (Yervoy), temozolomide, dacarbazine, a clinical trial, or radiosurgery, Sarah's oncologist felt that ipilimumab or radiosurgery would be the best course of action. She shared with her support group that she was ambivalent about this decision, as she had experienced profound fatigue and nausea with chemotherapy during her past treatment for breast cancer. She eventually opted to undergo stereotactic radiosurgery.
After the radiosurgery, Sarah was followed every 2 months. She complained of shortness of breath about 2 weeks prior to each follow-up visit. Each time her chest x-ray was normal, and she eventually believed that her breathlessness was anxiety-related. Unfortunately, Sarah’s 1-year follow-up exam revealed a 2 cm × 3 cm mass in her left lung, for which she had a surgical wedge resection. Her complaints of shortness of breath increased following the surgery and occurred most often with anxiety, heat, and gardening activities, especially when she needed to bend over. Sarah also complained of a burning "pins and needles" sensation at the surgical chest wall site that was bothersome and would wake her up at night.
Sarah met with the nurse practitioner in the symptom management clinic to discuss her concerns. Upon physical examination, observable signs of breathlessness were lacking, and oxygen saturation remained stable at 94%, but Sarah rated her breathlessness as 7 on the 0 to 10 Borg scale. The nurse practitioner prescribed duloxetine to help manage the surgical site neuropathic pain and to assist with anxiety, which in turn could possibly improve Sarah’s breathlessness. Several nonpharmacologic modalities for breathlessness were also recommended: using a fan directed toward her face, working in the garden in the early morning when the weather is cooler, gardening in containers that are at eye level to avoid the need to bend down, and performing relaxation exercises with pursed lip breathing to relieve anxiety-provoked breathlessness. One month later, Sarah reported relief of her anxiety; she stated that the fan directed toward her face helped most when she started to feel "air hungry." She rated her breathlessness at 4/10 on the Borg scale.
Sarah’s chest x-rays remained clear for 6 months, but she developed a chronic cough shortly before the 9-month exam. An x-ray revealed several bilateral lung lesions and growth in the area of the previously resected lung nodule. Systemic therapy was recommended, and she underwent two cycles of ipilimumab. Sarah’s cough and breathlessness worsened, she developed colitis, and she decided to stop therapy after the third cycle. In addition, her coughing spells triggered bronchospasms that resulted in severe anxiety, panic attacks, and air hunger. She rated her breathlessness at 10/10 on the Borg scale during these episodes. She found communication difficult due to the cough and began to isolate herself. She continued to attend the support group weekly but had difficulty participating in conversation due to her cough.
Sarah was seen in the symptom management clinic every 2 weeks or more often as needed. No acute distress was present at the beginning of each visit, but when Sarah began to talk about her symptoms and fear of dying, her shortness of breath and anxiety increased. The symptom management nurse practitioner treated the suspected underlying cause of the breathlessness and prescribed oral lorazepam (0.5 to 1 mg every 6 hours) for anxiety and codeine cough syrup for the cough. Opioids were initiated for chest wall pain and to control the breathlessness. Controlled-release oxycodone was started at 10 mg every 12 hours with a breakthrough pain (BTP) dose of 5 mg every 2 hours as needed for breathlessness or pain. Sarah noted improvement in her symptoms and reported a Borg scale rating of 5/10. Oxygen therapy was attempted, but subjective improvement in Sarah’s breathlessness was lacking.
Sarah’s disease progressed to the liver, and she began experiencing more notable signs of breathlessness: nasal flaring, tachycardia, and restlessness. Opioid doses were titrated over the course of 3 months to oxycodone (40 mg every 12 hours) with a BTP dose of 10 to 15 mg every 2 hours as needed, but her breathlessness caused significant distress, which she rated 8/10. The oxycodone was rotated to IV morphine continuous infusion with patient-controlled analgesia (PCA) that was delivered through her implantable port. This combination allowed Sarah to depress the PCA as needed and achieve immediate control of her dyspneic episodes. Oral lorazepam was also continued as needed.
Sarah’s daughter moved home to take care of her mother, and hospice became involved for end-of-life care. As Sarah became less responsive, nurses maintained doses of morphine for control of pain and breathlessness and used a respiratory distress observation scale to assess for breathlessness since Sarah could no longer self-report. A bolus PCA dose of morphine was administered by Sarah’s daughter if her mother appeared to be in distress. Sarah died peacefully in her home without signs of distress.
PMCID: PMC4093448  PMID: 25032021
10.  Psychological functioning before predictive testing for Huntington's disease: the role of the parental disease, risk perception, and subjective proximity of the disease 
Journal of Medical Genetics  1999;36(12):897-905.
BACKGROUND—Psychometric testing of participants in predictive DNA testing for Huntington's disease (HD) has shown that 15% of the subjects at risk for HD had at least mild depression or a high score for general anxiety or both in the pre-test period. The main aim of the study was the delineation of variables associated with pre-test distress of applicants for predictive testing for HD. Based on theoretical considerations, four specific hypotheses were tested regarding the role of (1) the test participant's age at the (perceived) parental onset of HD, (2) the affected parent's sex, (3) the perception of the risk for HD, and (4) the subjective proximity of the disease. Secondly, these four variables were used in multiple regression analyses to select the best predictors of pre- and post-test psychological functioning (one year after the test). Increasing the understanding of pre- and post-test distress is important for developing better counselling and support strategies for test applicants.
METHODS—Data were collected by means of clinical interviews and psychometric questionnaires during the pre- and post-test (one year after the test) counselling sessions for predictive testing for HD.
RESULTS—We found significant associations of the participant's age at the parental onset, the subjective proximity of the disease onset, and the perceived risk with pre-test psychometric measures of psychological functioning. Multiple regression analyses showed that the best predictors of pre-test functioning were the perceived proximity of the disease onset and its interaction with risk perception. Regarding post-test functioning, none of the proposed variables had a unique contribution beyond that accounted for by pre-test psychological functioning.
CONCLUSIONS—Test participants who are close to the perceived age of onset of HD and who have a pessimistic risk perception should be given special attention during pre-test counselling because of their possible negative affective condition at that time. Pre-test psychological measures were the best predictors of post-test distress, irrespective of the test result. Suggestions for future longitudinal research are formulated. This kind of research should enable clinical geneticists and mental health professionals to refine the pre- and post-test counselling strategies for predictive DNA testing, not only for HD, but also for other incurable late onset disorders.

Keywords: Huntington's disease; predictive DNA testing; psychological distress
PMCID: PMC1734269  PMID: 10593997
11.  Women’s Satisfaction with Genetic Counseling for Hereditary Breast-Ovarian Cancer 
Women who participate in BRCA1/2 cancer genetic counseling do so for a variety of reasons, including learning quantitative risk information about their chances of developing hereditary breast-ovarian cancer at some point during their lifetimes. For these women, obtaining pre-test and disclosure genetic counseling with a professional affords them numerous potential benefits, including adequate preparation for, and accurate interpretation of, their test results. In consequence, women commonly report being highly satisfied with their cancer genetic counseling experience, even if the information learned through testing suggests they are at increased cancer risk. This occurrence raises an interesting question, namely what are the psychological aspects of satisfaction with genetic counseling for hereditary breast-ovarian cancer in women? To answer this question, we administered the Genetic Counseling Satisfaction Scale (GCSS) to a convenience sample of 61 women participating in BRCA1/2 pre-test genetic counseling, and re-administered the GCSS to approximately one-third of these women at disclosure. Available psychological data included personality, distress, and family functioning. In bivariate analyses, optimism and family functioning were positively associated with pre-test satisfaction. With respect to satisfaction at disclosure, general and cancer-specific distress were negatively associated with satisfaction. Our findings suggest that psychological aspects of satisfaction with cancer genetic counseling vary, with individual differences and family functioning playing a role at pre-test, and distress playing a role at disclosure. The implications for future research and clinical practice are discussed.
PMCID: PMC3548224  PMID: 15389697
hereditary breast and ovarian cancer; genetic counseling; genetic testing; satisfaction; psychology
12.  Psychological impact of genetic testing for Huntington's disease: an update of the literature 
Genetic testing has been available for Huntington's disease for longer than any other adult onset genetic disorder. The discovery of the genetic mutation causing Huntington's disease made possible the use of predictive testing to identify currently unaffected carriers. Concerns have been raised that predictive testing may lead to an increase in deaths by suicide among identified carriers, and these concerns set in motion research to assess the psychological impact of predictive testing for Huntington's disease. This review article provides an overview of the literature and draws implications for clinical practice. About 10%-20% of people at risk request testing when approached by registries or testing centres. Most of the evidence suggests that non-carriers and carriers differ significantly in terms of short term, but not long term, general psychological distress. Adjustment to results was found to depend more on psychological adjustment before testing than the testing result itself. Although risk factors for psychological sequelae have been identified, few adverse events have been described and no obvious contraindications for testing people at risk have been identified. The psychological impact of testing may depend on whether testing was based on linkage analysis or mutation detection. Cohorts enrolled in mutation detection programmes have higher levels of depression before and after testing, compared with people who sought genetic testing when linkage analysis was available. There is evidence that people who choose to be tested are psychologically selected for a favourable response to testing. The impact of testing on people in settings where less intensive counselling protocols and eligibility criteria are used is unknown, and genetic testing is therefore best offered as part of comprehensive specialist counselling.

PMCID: PMC1763433  PMID: 11032605
13.  Short-term psychological impact of the BRCA1/2 test result in women with breast cancer according to their perceived probability of genetic predisposition to cancer 
British Journal of Cancer  2013;108(5):1012-1020.
The effect of BRCA1/2 gene test result on anxiety, depression, cancer-related thought intrusion or avoidance and perceived control over cancer risk was assessed in breast cancer (BC) patients, according to their perceived probability of genetic predisposition to cancer.
Two hundred and forty-three (89% response rate) women with BC completed questionnaires after an initial genetic counselling visit (T1), of which 180 (66%) completed questionnaires again after receiving the BRCA1/2 results (T2). The discrepancy between women's perceived probability of cancer genetic predisposition at T1 and the geneticist's computed estimates was assessed.
In all, 74% of women received a negative uninformative (NU), 11% a positive BRCA1/2 and 15% an unclassified variant (UV) result. On hierarchical regression analysis, in women with a positive BRCA1/2 result (vs NU or UV), a lower perceived probability of cancer genetic predisposition than objective estimates at T1 predicted lower levels of anxiety at T2 (β=−0.28; P<0.01), whereas in women receiving a UV result (vs NU or positive BRCA1/2), a lower perceived probability of cancer genetic predisposition than objective estimates at T1 predicted higher levels of anxiety (β=0.20; P<0.01), depression (β=0.19; P<0.05) and intrusion (β=0.18; P<0.05) at T2.
The type of BRCA1/2 test result differently affects distress according to women's perceived probability of genetic predisposition before testing.
PMCID: PMC3619058  PMID: 23462725
BRCA1/2 testing; anxiety; depression; stress reactions; perceived probability of genetic predisposition to cancer
14.  Predictive genetic testing in children and adults: a study of emotional impact 
Journal of Medical Genetics  2001;38(8):519-526.
AIM—To determine whether, following predictive genetic testing for familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP), children or adults receiving positive results experience clinically significant levels of anxiety or depression, and whether children receiving positive results experience higher levels of anxiety or depression than adults receiving positive results.
DESIGN—Two studies, one cross sectional and one prospective.
SAMPLE—208 unaffected subjects (148 adults and 60 children) at risk for FAP who have undergone genetic testing since 1990.
MAIN MEASURES—Dependent variables: anxiety, depression; independent variables: test results, demographic measures, psychological resources (optimism, self-esteem).
RESULTS—Study 1. In children receiving positive results, mean scores for anxiety and depression were within the normal range. There was a trend for children receiving positive results to be more anxious and depressed than those receiving negative results. In adults, mean scores for anxiety were within the normal range for those receiving negative results, but were in the clinical range for those receiving positive results, with 43% (95% CI 23-65) of the latter having scores in this range. Regardless of test result, adults were more likely to be clinically anxious if they were low in optimism or self-esteem. Children receiving positive or negative results did not experience greater anxiety or depression than adults. Study 2. For children receiving a positive test result, mean scores for anxiety, depression, and self-esteem were unchanged over the year following the result, while mean anxiety scores decreased and self-esteem increased after receipt of a negative test result over the same period of time.
CONCLUSION—Children, as a group, did not show clinically significant distress over the first year following predictive genetic testing. Adults were more likely to be clinically anxious if they received a positive result or were low in optimism or self-esteem, with interacting effects. The association between anxiety, self-esteem, and optimism suggests that counselling should be targeted, not only at those with positive test results, but also at those low in psychological resources.

Keywords: genetic testing; children; familial adenomatous polyposis; emotional impact
PMCID: PMC1734924  PMID: 11483640
15.  Information Needs of Mothers Regarding Communicating BRCA1/2 Cancer Genetic Test Results to their Children 
Genetic testing  2007;11(3):249-255.
Mothers who participate in genetic testing for hereditary breast/ovarian cancer risk must decide if, when, and how to ultimately share their BRCA1 and BRCA2 (BRCA1/2) test results with their minor-age children. One of the primary aides for mothers in making this decision is cancer genetic counseling. However, counseling is limited in how well it can educate mothers about such decisions without the availability of resources that are specific to family communication and genetic testing per se. In an effort to fill this gap and identify mothers most likely to benefit from such resources, surveys were conducted with 187 mothers undergoing BRCA1/2 testing who had children 8-21 years-old. Data were collected weeks after genetic testing but prior to mothers' learning of their test results; quantitative assessments of informational resource needs (i.e., speaking with previous BRCA1/2 testing participants who are parents regarding their experiences, reading educational literature about options and what to expect, speaking with a family counselor, attending a family support group, and self-nominated other resources), testing motivations, decision making vigilance, and decisional conflict regarding communicating test results to children were included. Mothers' most-to-least frequently cited information resource needs were: literature (93.4%), family counseling (85.8%), prior participants (79.0%), support groups (53.9%), and other (28.9%; e.g., pediatricians and psychologists). Seventy-eight percent of mothers were interested in accessing 3 or more resources. In multivariate regression analyses, testing motivations (β=0.35, p=.03), decision making vigilance (β=0.16, p=.00) and decisional conflict (β=0.10, p=.00) were associated with mothers' need level; mothers with a greater interest in testing to learn about their children's risks, those with more vigilant decision making styles, and those with higher decisional conflict had the greatest need. In conjunction with enhanced genetic counseling focusing on family disclosure, educational literature and psychosocial support may promote improved outcomes.
PMCID: PMC2495765  PMID: 17949286
16.  The influence of acculturation and breast cancer-specific distress on perceived barriers to genetic testing for breast cancer among women of African descent 
Psycho-oncology  2009;18(9):945-955.
Rising health disparities are increasingly evident in relation to use of genetic services (including genetic counseling and testing) for breast cancer risk, with women of African descent less likely to use genetic services compared with Whites. Meanwhile, little is known regarding potential within-group acculturation and psychological differences underlying perceived barriers to genetic testing among women of African descent.
Hypothesized contributions of acculturation factors and breast cancer-specific distress to perceived barriers to genetic testing were examined with a statistical analysis of baseline data from 146 women of African descent (56% US born and 44% foreign born) meeting genetic breast cancer risk criteria and participating in a larger longitudinal study that included the opportunity for free genetic counseling and testing. Perceived barriers assessed included: (1) anticipation of negative emotional reactions, (2) stigma, (3) confidentiality concerns, (4) family-related worry, and (5) family-related guilt associated with genetic testing.
In multivariate analyses, being foreign born was a significant predictor of anticipated negative emotional reactions about genetic testing (β= 0.26; SE=0.11; p = 0.01). Breast cancer-specific distress scores (avoidance symptoms) were positively related to anticipated negative emotional reactions (β = 0.02; SE= 0.005; p = <0.0001), confidentiality concerns (β = 0.02; SE = 0.01; p = 0.02), and family-related guilt (β = 0.02; SE=0.01; p = 0.0009) associated with genetic testing.
Results suggest an influence of acculturation and breast cancer-specific distress on perceived barriers to genetic testing among women of African descent. The potential utility of culturally tailored genetic counseling services taking into account such influences and addressing emotional and psychological concerns of women considering genetic testing for breast cancer should be investigated.
PMCID: PMC2735601  PMID: 19090507
cancer; oncology; genetic testing; breast; African
17.  Biobank Participants’ Preferences for Disclosure of Genetic Research Results: Perspectives From the OurGenes, OurHealth, OurCommunity Project 
Mayo Clinic proceedings  2014;89(6):738-746.
To assess biobank participants’ preferences for disclosure of genetic research results. Patients and Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional survey of participants in the OurGenes, OurHealth, OurCommunity biobank. Respondents were surveyed about preferences for disclosure, importance of disclosure, communication of results with practitioners, and sharing of results after respondents’ death. Multivariate regression analysis was used to assess independent sociodemographic and clinical predictors of disclosure preferences. Data collection occurred from June 6, 2011, to June 25, 2012.
Among 1154 biobank participants, 555 (48%) responded. Most thought that research result disclosure was important (90%). Preference for disclosure varied, depending on availability of disease treatment (90% vs. 64%, P<.001), high vs. low disease risk (79% vs. 66%, P<.001), and serious vs. mild disease (83% vs. 68%, P<.001). More than half of respondents (57%) preferred disclosure even when there is uncertainty about the results’ meaning, and 87% preferred disclosure if the disease is highly heritable. Older age was positively associated with interest in disclosure, whereas female sex, nonwhite race, diabetes mellitus, and depression and/or anxiety were negatively associated with disclosure. More than half of respondents (52%) would want their results returned to their nearest biological relative after death.
OurGenes biobank participants report strong preferences for disclosure of research results, and most would designate a relative to receive results after death. Participant preferences for serious vs. mild disease, high vs. low disease risk, and availability of disease treatment differed significantly. Future research should consider family members’ preferences for receiving research results from enrolled research participants.
PMCID: PMC4148696  PMID: 24943692
18.  Routine HIV Testing in Botswana: A Population-Based Study on Attitudes, Practices, and Human Rights Concerns 
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(7):e261.
The Botswana government recently implemented a policy of routine or “opt-out” HIV testing in response to the high prevalence of HIV infection, estimated at 37% of adults.
Methods and Findings
We conducted a cross-sectional, population-based study of 1,268 adults from five districts in Botswana to assess knowledge of and attitudes toward routine testing, correlates of HIV testing, and barriers and facilitators to testing, 11 months after the introduction of this policy. Most participants (81%) reported being extremely or very much in favor of routine testing. The majority believed that this policy would decrease barriers to testing (89%), HIV-related stigma (60%), and violence toward women (55%), and would increase access to antiretroviral treatment (93%). At the same time, 43% of participants believed that routine testing would lead people to avoid going to the doctor for fear of testing, and 14% believed that this policy could increase gender-based violence related to testing. The prevalence of self-reported HIV testing was 48%. Adjusted correlates of testing included female gender (AOR = 1.5, 95% CI = 1.1–1.9), higher education (AOR = 2.0, 95% CI = 1.5–2.7), more frequent healthcare visits (AOR = 1.9, 95% CI = 1.3–2.7), perceived access to HIV testing (AOR = 1.6, 95% CI = 1.1–2.5), and inconsistent condom use (AOR = 1.6, 95% CI = 1.2–2.1). Individuals with stigmatizing attitudes toward people living with HIV and AIDS were less likely to have been tested for HIV/AIDS (AOR = 0.7, 95% CI = 0.5–0.9) or to have heard of routine testing (AOR = 0.59, 95% CI = 0.45–0.76). While experiences with voluntary and routine testing overall were positive, 68% felt that they could not refuse the HIV test. Key barriers to testing included fear of learning one's status (49%), lack of perceived HIV risk (43%), and fear of having to change sexual practices with a positive HIV test (33%).
Routine testing appears to be widely supported and may reduce barriers to testing in Botswana. As routine testing is adopted elsewhere, measures should be implemented to assure true informed consent and human rights safeguards, including protection from HIV-related discrimination and protection of women against partner violence related to testing.
Editors' Summary
In 2005, there were 5 million new infections with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and the disease it causes—acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS)—killed three million people. Despite the increased availability of drugs that can fight HIV (antiretrovirals), the AIDS epidemic continues to grow, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. To halt it, more needs to be done to prevent the spread of HIV. Education about safe sex can help—HIV is most commonly spread through unprotected sex with an infected partner—but increasing HIV testing is of paramount importance. Unfortunately, the uptake of voluntary counseling and testing in sub-Saharan Africa is worryingly low. Fear of being stigmatized—socially disgraced—and discriminated against, fears about the positive result itself, and worries about access to antiretroviral drugs are all putting people off being tested.
Why Was This Study Done?
In Botswana, one in three adults is infected with HIV. Since 2002, antiretroviral drugs have been freely available but enrollment in the Botswana National Treatment Program during its first two years was slow, in part due to inadequate uptake of voluntary HIV testing. Consequently, in early 2004, the government introduced a policy of routine HIV testing in which all patients are tested for HIV when they visit their doctor unless they opt out. A major aim of this approach to HIV testing, which was formally recommended in June 2004 by UNAIDS and the World Health Organization, is to increase uptake of HIV testing and treatment, and to reduce HIV-related stigma by treating the HIV test like any other routine medical procedure. However, there are fears that the policy could back-fire—people might not visit their doctors, for example, because they are afraid of being tested and think that they will not be able to refuse the test. In this study, the researchers investigated knowledge of and attitudes to routine testing in Botswana to understand better the consequences of a routine testing policy.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers interviewed adults throughout Botswana about their knowledge of and attitudes to routine HIV testing 11 months after introduction of the policy. Only half of the participants had heard of routine testing before being interviewed but nearly all were in favor of routine testing. More than half thought it would reduce HIV-related stigma and the violence toward women that is associated with an HIV-positive status. However, almost half believed that routine testing might prevent people from going to the doctor because of fear of testing and a few thought the policy would increase violence against women. Nearly half of the interviewees had had an HIV test and the researchers found, for example, that women were more likely to have been tested than men and that people with stigmatizing attitudes toward people living with HIV and AIDS were less likely to be tested. Fear of learning one's HIV status, lack of perceived risk, and fear of having to change sexual practices if positive all stopped people taking the test. Finally, although experiences with testing were generally positive, approximately two-thirds of interviewees who had been tested felt that it would have been difficult to refuse the test.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These results show that there is widespread support for routine HIV testing in Botswana, a finding supported by recent increases in treatment uptake. Routine testing, write the researchers, holds significant promise for the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS in Botswana and elsewhere. In particular, increasing the number of people tested for HIV may reduce HIV-related stigma, which should further increase testing and hopefully slow the spread of HIV. But the results of this study also highlight some areas of concern. Whenever HIV testing policies are implemented, human rights must be protected by ensuring that patients have all the information necessary to make an informed and free decision about being tested, by providing protection for women against violence related to HIV status, and by ensuring total confidentiality. Careful monitoring of Botswana's program and similar programs will be needed to ensure that these human rights are fully met, conclude the researchers.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
• US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases factsheet on HIV infection and AIDS
• US Department of Health and Human Services information on AIDS
• US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention information on HIV/AIDS
• UNAIDS and World Health Organization 2004 policy statement on HIV testing
• AVERT, a UK-based charity, provides information about HIV and AIDS in Botswana
A cross-sectional, population-based study of 1,268 adults from five districts in Botswana showed that routine HIV testing appears to be widely supported and may reduce barriers to HIV testing.
PMCID: PMC1502152  PMID: 16834458
19.  Periodic health examination, 1996 update: 1. Prenatal screening for and diagnosis of Down syndrome. Canadian Task Force on the Periodic Health Examination. 
OBJECTIVE: To make recommendations to physicians providing prenatal care on (1) whether prenatal screening for and diagnosis of Down syndrome (DS) is advisable and (2) alternative screening and diagnosis manoeuvres. OPTIONS: "Triple-marker" screening of maternal serum levels of alpha-fetoprotein, human chorionic gonadotropin and unconjugated estriol; fetal ultrasonographic examination; amniocentesis; and chorionic villus sampling (CVS). OUTCOMES: Accuracy of detection of DS in fetuses, and risks to the mother, including psychologic distress, and to the fetus from the screening and diagnostic interventions. EVIDENCE: A MEDLINE search for relevant articles published from Jan. 1, 1966, to Mar. 31, 1994, with the use of MeSH terms "Down syndrome," "prenatal diagnosis," "screening," "prevention," "amniocentesis," "chorionic villus sampling," "ultrasonography," "anxiety," "depression" and "psychological stress" and a manual search of bibliographies, recent issues of key journals and Current Contents. VALUES: The evidence-based methods and values of the Canadian Task Force on the Periodic Health Examination were used. A high value was placed on providing pregnant women with the opportunity to determine whether they are carrying a fetus with DS and to make choices concerning the termination of the pregnancy. The economic issues involved are complex and were not considered. BENEFITS, HARMS AND COSTS: Triple-marker screening identifies an estimated 58% of fetuses with DS, but it has an estimated rate of true-positive results of 0.1% and of false-positive results of 3.7% (given a risk cut-off of one chance in 190 of DS). These rates vary with maternal age and the risk cut-off chosen. Women with a known risk of having a fetus with DS (e.g., those who have had a previous child with DS) may benefit from a reduction in anxiety after confirmation that their fetus does not have DS. Screening allows women at low risk of having a child with DS to detect fetuses with the syndrome, but may cause psychologic distress if there is a false-positive screening test result. Up to 20% of women with positive results of screening tests may decline to undergo a subsequent amniocentesis. Amniocentesis and CVS are very accurate in diagnosing DS in fetuses and have a very low rate of serious complications for the mother. Amniocentesis is associated with a 1.7% rate of fetal loss when it is performed after 16 weeks' gestation, whereas the rate among controls is 0.7% (for a difference of 1%, 95% confidence interval 0.3% to 1.5%). CVS entails a greater risk of fetal loss than amniocentesis (odds ratio 1.32, 95% confidence interval 1.11 to 1.57). There is little evidence from controlled trials of significant associations between amniocentesis or CVS and neonatal morbidity or malformations; however, samples have been too small to show differences in rare outcomes. Results from some case-control studies suggest that CVS increases the risk of transverse limb deficiency. Costs were not considered because they are beyond the scope of this review. RECOMMENDATIONS: There is fair evidence to offer triple-marker screening through a comprehensive program to pregnant women under 35 years of age (grade B recommendation). Women given detailed information about serum-marker screening show more satisfaction with the screening than those not given this information. There is fair evidence to offer amniocentesis or CVS to pregnant women 35 years of age and older and to women with a history of a fetus with DS or of a chromosome 21 anomaly (grade B recommendation). Information on the limitations and advantages of each procedure should be offered. Triple-marker screening may be offered as an alternative to CVS or amniocentesis to pregnant women over 35. VALIDATION: Recommendations concerning prenatal diagnosis are similar to those of the US Preventive Services Task Force, the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada, the Canadian College of Medical Geneticists and the Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Group. No previous specific recommendations concerning triple-maker screening exist. SPONSORS: These guidelines were developed and endorsed by the Canadian Task Force on the Periodic Health Examination, which is funded by Health Canada and the National Health Research and Development Program.
PMCID: PMC1487598  PMID: 8630836
20.  Self-reported Distress after Cognitive Testing in Patients with Alzheimer’s Disease 
The prevalence and degree of self-reported distress that patients with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) experience after cognitive testing remains unknown. It is also unknown whether this level of distress is at all related to specific patient factors, test performance, or awareness of test performance.
In 154 mild-moderate AD patients and 62 cognitively intact patients, we measured self-reported distress, on a five point Likert scale, after 45 minutes of cognitive testing. Using multivariate logistic regression, we then examined whether demographic factors, level of education, depressive symptoms, cognitive performance, perceived test difficulty, and perceived test performance compared to 10 years ago were predictive of self-reported distress.
The prevalence of any self-reported distress in patients with AD was 70% compared to 47% in patients without AD (P < .001). Of those with AD, bivariate analyses revealed that patients who reported more difficulty with testing (RR 1.32, 95% CI 1.25–1.37) and felt they performed worse than 10 years ago (RR 1.21, 95% CI 1.07–1.30) were at increased risk for reporting more distress. Paradoxically, cognitive performance was a weak predictor of distress, with only language performance demonstrating an association (RR 0.95, 95% CI 0.89–0.99). Adjustments for demographic factors, education, dementia severity, or depressive symptoms in the multivariable analyses, did not alter these relationships.
Cognitive tasks provoke more distress in patients with mild-moderate AD compared with persons who do not have dementia. Predictors of distress are more closely related to patient awareness about test difficulty and performance, rather than actual test performance.
PMCID: PMC2733161  PMID: 18772474
21.  The Early Psychological Impacts of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill on Florida and Alabama Communities 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2011;119(6):838-843.
Although public concern has focused on the environmental impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the public health impact on a broad range of coastal communities is minimally known.
We sought to determine the acute level of distress (depression, anxiety), mechanisms of adjustment (coping, resilience), and perceived risk in a community indirectly impacted by the oil spill and to identify the extent to which economic loss may explain these factors.
Using a community-based participatory model, we performed standardized assessments of psychological distress (mood, anxiety), coping, resilience, neurocognition, and perceived risk on residents of fishing communities who were indirectly impacted (n = 71, Franklin County, Florida) or directly exposed (n = 23, Baldwin County, Alabama) to coastal oil. We also compared findings for participants who reported income stability (n = 47) versus spill-related income loss (n = 47).
We found no significant differences between community groups in terms of psychological distress, adjustment, neurocognition, or environmental worry. Residents of both communities displayed clinically significant depression and anxiety. Relative to those with stable incomes, participants with spill-related income loss had significantly worse scores on tension/anxiety, depression, fatigue, confusion, and total mood disturbance scales; had higher rates of depression; were less resilient; and were more likely to use behavioral disengagement as a coping strategy.
Current estimates of human health impacts associated with the oil spill may underestimate the psychological impact in Gulf Coast communities that did not experience direct exposure to oil. Income loss after the spill may have a greater psychological health impact than the presence of oil on the immediately adjacent shoreline.
PMCID: PMC3114820  PMID: 21330230
disasters; environmental epidemiology; occupational health; petroleum products; risk perception
22.  Anxiety among women with mild dyskaryosis: a randomized trial of an educational intervention. 
BACKGROUND: Women with mild dyskaryosis are currently managed by six-month cytological surveillance. While there is good evidence that women suffer psychological distress on receipt of an abnormal test, and that this is amenable to educational intervention, it remains uncertain whether this distress is prolonged and, if so, how it should best be managed. AIM: To investigate whether a structured educational intervention containing a risk communication package impacts upon psychological sequelae associated with this surveillance. METHOD: A pragmatic cluster-randomized controlled trial during 14 months in 1995 and 1996, based in general practices in Avon and South Glamorgan, that compared the intervention with standard care. Follow-up was by postal questionnaire at six weeks and four months after the screening laboratory had reported the test result. The intervention was an invitation to attend the general practice to consult with a practice nurse trained to deliver the package. The main outcome measures were Spielberger state-anxiety, SF-36 Mental Health dimension, four condition-specific questions regarding concerns about gynaecological health and timing of the repeat smear test, and attendance for the repeat test. RESULTS: Of 514 eligible women, 270 were recruited, of whom 240 returned the six-week questionnaire and 181 returned the four-month questionnaire. On all but one outcome measure, the differences between the groups were not statistically significant. At six-week follow-up, the proportion who preferred the repeat test to be sooner than six months was statistically significantly higher among controls (74% versus 53%; 95% CI = 9% to 33%). At the four-month follow-up, the difference was 7% (95% CI = -7% to 21%). CONCLUSION: There appear to be high levels of anxiety during surveillance for mild dyskaryosis that were not reduced by the intervention. Given that a personally delivered educational intervention designed to reduce anxiety could be viewed as the best available practice, it is of concern that women in the intervention group demonstrated sustained anxiety over a four-month period. The research agenda therefore seems to return to the fundamental question of whether surveillance should be the management of choice.
PMCID: PMC1313418  PMID: 10736883
23.  Psychological impact of human papillomavirus testing in women with borderline or mildly dyskaryotic cervical smear test results: cross sectional questionnaire study 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2004;328(7451):1293.
Objective To describe the psychological impact on women of being tested for human papillomavirus (HPV) when smear test results are borderline or mildly dyskaryotic.
Design Cross sectional questionnaire study.
Setting Two centres participating in an English pilot study of HPV testing in women with borderline or mildly dyskaryotic smear test results.
Participants Women receiving borderline or mildly dyskaryotic smear test results tested for HPV and found to be HPV positive (n = 536) or HPV negative (n = 331); and women not tested for HPV with borderline or mildly dyskaryotic smear results (n = 143) or normal smear results (n = 366).
Main outcome measures State anxiety, distress, and concern about test result, assessed within four weeks of receipt of results.
Results Women with borderline or mildly dyskaryotic smear results who were HPV positive were more anxious, distressed, and concerned than the other three groups. Three variables independently predicted anxiety in HPV positive women: younger age (β = -0.11, P = 0.03), higher perceived risk of cervical cancer (β = 0.17, P < 0.001), and reporting that they did not understand the meaning of test results (β = 0.17, P = 0.001). Testing HPV negative was not reassuring: among women with abnormal smear test results, those who were HPV negative were no less anxious than those who were not tested for HPV.
Conclusions Informing women more effectively about the meaning of borderline or mildly dyskaryotic smear test results and HPV status, in particular about the absolute risks of cervical cancer and the prevalence of HPV infection, may avoid some anxiety for those who are HPV positive while achieving some reassurance for those who test HPV negative.
PMCID: PMC420171  PMID: 15166066
24.  BRCA1/2 genetic testing uptake and psychosocial outcomes in men 
Familial cancer  2011;10(2):213-223.
Few studies have quantitatively evaluated the uptake and outcomes of BRCA1/2 genetic counseling and testing in men. We conducted a prospective longitudinal study to describe and compare uptake of and psychosocial outcomes following BRCA1/2 testing in a sample of men and women at high-risk for carrying a BRCA1/2 mutation. Men (n = 98) and women (n = 243) unaffected with cancer completed baseline assessments prior to genetic counseling and testing and then 6- and 12-months post-testing. Most men (n = 94; 95.9%) opted to have genetic testing, of whom 44 received positive BRCA1/2 genetic test results and 50 received true negative results. Among women, 93.4% had genetic testing, of whom 79 received positive results and 148 received negative results. In multivariate models, male BRCA1/2 carriers reported significantly higher genetic testing distress (6-months: Z = 4.48, P < 0.0001; 12-months: Z = 2.78, P < 0.01) than male non-carriers. After controlling for baseline levels of distress, no statistically significant differences emerged between male and female BRCA1/2 carriers in psychological distress at 12-months post-testing, although absolute differences were evident over time. Predictors of distress related to genetic testing among male carriers at 12-months included higher baseline cancer-specific distress (Z = 4.73, P < 0.0001) and being unmarried (Z = 2.18, P < 0.05). Similarly, baseline cancer-specific distress was independently associated with cancer-specific distress at 6- (Z = 3.66, P < 0.001) and 12-months (Z = 4.44, P < 0.0001) post-testing among male carriers. Clinically, our results suggest that pre-test assessment of distress and creation of educational materials specifically tailored to the needs and concerns of male carriers may be appropriate in this important but understudied high-risk group.
PMCID: PMC3144746  PMID: 21365268
BRCA1/2; Cancer risk; Genetic testing; Male female comparisons; Men; Psychosocial outcomes; Test uptake
25.  Effect of Direct-to-Consumer Genomewide Profiling to Assess Disease Risk 
The New England journal of medicine  2011;364(6):524-534.
The use of direct-to-consumer genomewide profiling to assess disease risk is controversial, and little is known about the effect of this technology on consumers. We examined the psychological, behavioral, and clinical effects of risk scanning with the Navigenics Health Compass, a commercially available test of uncertain clinical validity and utility.
We recruited subjects from health and technology companies who elected to purchase the Health Compass at a discounted rate. Subjects reported any changes in symptoms of anxiety, intake of dietary fat, and exercise behavior at a mean (±SD) of 5.6±2.4 months after testing, as compared with baseline, along with any test-related distress and the use of health-screening tests.
From a cohort of 3639 enrolled subjects, 2037 completed follow-up. Primary analyses showed no significant differences between baseline and follow-up in anxiety symptoms (P = 0.80), dietary fat intake (P = 0.89), or exercise behavior (P = 0.61). Secondary analyses revealed that test-related distress was positively correlated with the average estimated lifetime risk among all the assessed conditions (β = 0.117, P<0.001). However, 90.3% of subjects who completed follow-up had scores indicating no test-related distress. There was no significant increase in the rate of use of screening tests associated with genomewide profiling, most of which are not considered appropriate for screening asymptomatic persons in any case.
In a selected sample of subjects who completed follow-up after undergoing consumer genomewide testing, such testing did not result in any measurable short-term changes in psychological health, diet or exercise behavior, or use of screening tests. Potential effects of this type of genetic testing on the population at large are not known. (Funded by the National Institutes of Health and Scripps Health.)
PMCID: PMC3786730  PMID: 21226570

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