Psychosocial Impact of a Positive Gene Result for Asymptomatic Relatives at Risk of Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy

Psychosocial Impact of a Positive Gene Result for Asymptomatic Relatives at Risk of Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy.

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Item Type: Article
Status: Published
Official URL:
Journal or Publication Title: Journal of Genetic Counseling
Volume: 27
Number: 5
Page Range: pp. 1040-1048
Date: 2018
Divisions: Cardio Genomics
Molecular Cardiology
Depositing User: General Admin
Identification Number: 10.1007/s10897-018-0218-8
ISSN: 1059-7700
Date Deposited: 03 Jan 2021 23:12

Families with a history of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) may be offered genetic testing in addition to clinical surveillance. Asymptomatic family members who are gene positive (silent gene carriers) represent a new group of "patients" who may not develop HCM, with little evidence available to assist clinical management. This study explored experiences of HCM genetic testing to identify potential benefits and harms. Thirty-two individuals previously offered genetic testing for HCM were recruited. Semi-structured interviews were conducted face-to-face or by phone, and transcribed audio-recordings were coded using framework analysis. Key themes were as follows: (1) helping the next generation, (2) misunderstanding risk, (3) discrepancy between actual/perceived impact. Participants described multiple psychological (shock, worry, uncertainty) and behavioural (career, sport, insurance, family planning) consequences, depending on perceived risk. Most considered only the benefits of genetic testing for children or grandchildren, but there were some cases of significant adverse impact. The interpretation of the HCM genetic test result is variable for silent gene carriers and can lead to psychological and behavioural changes. The impact of a positive gene result may be mitigated by increased clarity of the clinical consequences and efforts to ensure informed decision-making, highlighting even further the important role of cardiac genetic counselling.

Keywords: Genetic counselling; Genetic testing; Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy; Informed decision-making; Psychosocial impact.

Bonner, Carissa
Spinks, Catherine
Semsarian, Christopher
Barratt, Alex
Ingles, Jodie
McCaffery, Kirsten
Last Modified: 03 Jan 2021 23:12

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