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1.  Mothers’ perspectives on their child’s mental illness as compared to other complex disorders in their family: Insights to inform genetic counseling practice 
Journal of genetic counseling  2011;21(4):564-572.
To facilitate the development of a therapeutic alliance in genetic counseling, it is important that the counselor understands how families might perceive the condition that constitutes the reason for the referral. Through training and professional practice, genetic counselors develop a thorough understanding of families’ perceptions of the conditions that are common indications for genetic counseling. But, for referral indications that are less frequent, like serious mental illnesses, genetic counselors may feel less confident in their understanding of the family’s experience, or in their ability to provide psychosocial support when serious mental illness is reported in a family history. This may impede the establishment of a therapeutic alliance. As research shows that most referrals for genetic counseling related to serious mental illness are for female first-degree family members of affected individuals, we sought to explore how this group perceives serious mental illness. To provide a frame of reference with which genetic counselors may be more familiar, we explored how women perceived serious mental illness compared to other common complex disorders in their family. We conducted semi-structured interviews with women who had a child with a serious mental illness (schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, bipolar disorder) and a first-degree relative with another common complex disorder (diabetes, heart disease, cancer). Interviews were transcribed and subjected to thematic analysis. Saturation was reached when nine women had participated. Serious mental illness was perceived as being more severe and as having a greater impact on the family than diabetes, heart disease, or cancer. Themes identified included guilt, stigma, and loss. Some of the most important issues that contribute to mothers’ perceptions that serious mental illness is more severe than other common complex disorders could be effectively addressed in genetic counseling. Developing a heightened awareness of how family members experience a relative’s mental illness may help genetic counselors to be better able to provide psychosocial support to this group, whether serious mental illness constitutes the primary reason for referral or appears in the family history during counseling for a different referral reason.
doi:10.1007/s10897-011-9420-7
PMCID: PMC3753288  PMID: 22089936 CAMSID: cams3093
stigma; guilt; psychiatric disorders; schizophrenia; bipolar disorder; serious mental illness; perceptions of mental illness
2.  The role of disease perceptions and results sharing in psychological adaptation after genetic susceptibility testing: the REVEAL Study 
European Journal of Human Genetics  2010;18(12):1296-1301.
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 ɛ4 negative (lower risk) had a reduction in perceived risk and concern about developing AD compared with those who learned that they were ɛ4 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.
doi:10.1038/ejhg.2010.119
PMCID: PMC2988099  PMID: 20664629
susceptibility genetic testing; AD; APOE; results disclosure; communication; risk perceptions
3.  Disclosing the disclosure: Factors associated with communicating the results of genetic susceptibility testing for Alzheimer’s disease 
Journal of health communication  2009;14(8):768-784.
This study explored the extent to which recipients of genetic susceptibility testing for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) communicated their results to others. It also examined demographic characteristics, along with beliefs about AD, associated with such communication. Participants (N = 271) in a randomized clinical trial involving genetic testing for Apolipoprotein E (APOE) gene variants among first-degree relatives of AD patients reported their communication behaviors 6 weeks after the results disclosure. Information on beliefs about AD and genetic testing was collected at baseline. Eighty-two percent of participants receiving APOE genotype information shared their results with someone. Specifically, 64% shared with family members, 51% with spouse or significant others, 35% with friends, and 12% with health care professionals. Greater AD treatment optimism was associated with communicating results to family (OR=1.43), spouse (OR=1.62), friends (OR =1.81), and health care professionals (OR=2.20). Lower perceived risk (OR=0.98) and higher perceived importance of genetics in the development of AD (OR=1.93) were associated with results communication in general. Lower perceived drawbacks of AD genetic testing was associated with results communication to friends (OR=0.65). Beliefs about AD risks and causes, genetic testing, and development of treatments may partly determine the interpersonal communication patterns of genetic susceptibility test results.
doi:10.1080/10810730903295518
PMCID: PMC2801901  PMID: 20029710
Susceptibility genetic testing; Alzheimer’s disease; APOE communication; disclosure
4.  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.
doi:10.1038/ejhg.2010.119
PMCID: PMC2988099  PMID: 20664629
susceptibility genetic testing; AD; APOE; results disclosure; communication; risk perceptions
5.  Genetic Testing For Alzheimer’s And Long-Term Care Insurance 
Health affairs (Project Hope)  2010;29(1):102-108.
A genetic marker known as apolipoprotein E provides a clear signal of a person’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and thus that person’s future need for long-term care. People who find that they have the variant of the trait that increases Alzheimer’s disease risk are more likely to purchase long-term care insurance after receiving this information. If the information is widely introduced into the insurance market, coverage rates could be affected in different ways, depending on who possesses that information. Policymakers will eventually need to confront the issue of the use of this and other markers in the pricing of long-term care insurance.
doi:10.1377/hlthaff.2009.0525
PMCID: PMC2931337  PMID: 20048367
6.  “I know what you told me, but this is what I think:” Perceived risk of Alzheimer disease among individuals who accurately recall their genetics-based risk estimate 
Purpose
This study evaluates the Alzheimer disease risk perceptions of individuals who accurately recall their genetics-based Alzheimer disease risk assessment.
Methods
Two hundred forty-six unaffected first-degree relatives of patients with Alzheimer disease were enrolled in a multisite randomized controlled trial examining the effects of communicating APOE genotype and lifetime Alzheimer disease risk information.
Results
Among the 158 participants who accurately recalled their Alzheimer disease risk assessment 6 weeks after risk disclosure, 75 (47.5%) believed their Alzheimer disease risk was more than 5% points different from the Alzheimer disease risk estimate they were given. Within this subgroup, 69.3% believed that their Alzheimer disease risk was higher than what they were told (discordant high), whereas 30.7% believed that their Alzheimer disease risk was lower (discordant low). Participants with a higher baseline risk perception were more likely to have a discordant-high risk perception (P < 0.05). Participants in the discordant-low group were more likely to be APOE ε4 positive (P < 0.05) and to score higher on an Alzheimer disease controllability scale (P < 0.05).
Conclusion
Our results indicate that even among individuals who accurately recall their Alzheimer disease risk assessment, many people do not take communicated risk estimates at face value. Further exploration of this clinically relevant response to risk information is warranted.
doi:10.1097/GIM.0b013e3181cef9e1
PMCID: PMC2921681  PMID: 20139767
risk recall; risk perception; Alzheimer disease; genetic susceptibility testing
7.  Perceptions of Familial Risk in those Seeking a Genetic Risk Assessment for Alzheimer’s Disease 
Journal of genetic counseling  2008;18(2):130-136.
Perceived risk is a complex concept that influences the genetic counseling process and can affect client coping and behavior. Although the association between family history and risk perception is well recognized in the literature, no studies have explored this relationship specifically in those seeking genetic susceptibility testing for a common chronic condition. REVEAL is a randomized trial assessing the impact of APOE disclosure and genetic risk assessment for Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Using baseline REVEAL data, we hypothesized that there would be a significant association between the degree of AD family history and risk perception of AD, and that this relationship would be stronger in those who believed that genetics is a very important AD risk factor. In our sample of 293 participants, we found that a higher self-perceived risk of AD was associated with strength of family history of AD (p<0.001), belief in genetics as an important AD risk factor (p<0.001), being female (p<0.001) and being Caucasian (p=0.02). These results are the first to demonstrate the association between family history and risk perception in persons volunteering for genetic susceptibility testing for a common complex disease.
doi:10.1007/s10897-008-9194-8
PMCID: PMC2919070  PMID: 18949541
Risk perception; Alzheimer’s disease; APOE; Genetic susceptibility testing; Risk assessment
8.  A New Scale Measuring Psychological Impact of Genetic Susceptibility Testing for Alzheimer’s Disease 
This paper describes the development and psychometric properties of a new scale for assessing the psychological impact of genetic susceptibility testing for Alzheimer’s disease (AD). The new instrument, The REVEAL Impact of Genetic Testing for Alzheimer’s disease (IGT-AD) was designed to examine the unique nature of genetic information and the disease course of AD. The scale was tested as a part of a multicenter clinical trial designed to evaluate the impact of AD risk assessment and data was collected from 276 participants in the study. Using an iterative process of Principal Component Analysis and Cronbach’s alpha, the final 16 item IGT-AD was found to have a two factor structure with excellent internal reliability. Construct validity was established by patterns of correlation with other standardized self-reported measures. This scale should be useful in the identification of patients who maybe susceptible to the negative effects of receiving genetic information, monitoring of patients who have received genetic information, and as a tool for researchers who wish to study the effects of genetic susceptibility testing for AD.
PMCID: PMC2743905  PMID: 19266699
Alzheimer’s disease genetics; genetic testing; Alzheimer’s disease risk assessment

Results 1-8 (8)