Is the psychological impact of genetic testing moderated by support and sharing of test results to family and friends?
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Receiving the results of genetic tests for a breast and ovarian cancer susceptibility can be a stressful experience. Here we studied the effects of social support (SS) and the sharing of test results on the psychological impact of BRCA1/2 test result disclosure. We also compared carriers and non-carriers on sharing, SS and psychological impact. Five-hundred and twenty-two unaffected women were followed prospectively for 2 years after receiving their test results. Psychological impact was measured on the impact of event scale. Multivariate multi-level models were used, and all the analyses were stratified depending on mutation status (carriers vs non-carriers). Two weeks after receiving their BRCA1/2 results, carriers had shared their test results less frequently than non-carriers (p < 0.01). Sharing test results was not significantly associated with psychological impact. Availability of SS was significantly associated with better psychological adjustment across time among carriers (p < 0.01), but not among non-carriers. For female BRCA1/2 mutation carriers, the importance of SS should be stressed, and possible ways of enlisting people in their entourage for this purpose should be discussed in the context of clinical encounters.
KeywordsBreast and ovarian cancer Family communication Hereditary cancer Psychological distress Social support
Julie Lapointe is a CIHR Fellow in Psychosocial Oncology Research and Training (PORT), was funded through a CIHR Training Grant (No. TGF-63285), a Michael Smith Foreign Study Supplements—Canada Graduate Scholarships A Tri-Agency (SSHRC, NSERC and CIHR) Program and the Fonds d’enseignement et de recherche de la Faculté de pharmacie de l’Université Laval. The study project was funded by the Institut National du Cancer (INCA—Grant R11108AA). We would like to thank the statisticians associated with this project for their help and supervision of the analyses, Anne-Deborah Bouhnik and Simon Olivier Fournier.
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
This study has been approved by the appropriate ethics committee and has been performed in accordance with the ethical standards laid down in the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki and its later amendments.
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