Journal of Genetic Counseling

, Volume 23, Issue 5, pp 785–795 | Cite as

Preferences Regarding Targeted Education and Risk Assessment in People with a Family History of Major Depressive Disorder

  • Veronica Quinn
  • Bettina MeiserEmail author
  • Alex Wilde
  • Zoe Cousins
  • Kristine Barlow-Stewart
  • Philip B. Mitchell
  • Peter R. Schofield
Original Research


Genetic testing for susceptibility to major depressive disorder (MDD) is not available for clinical use at present. Given this, family history remains the best predictor for development of MDD, and family-history-based risk assessment and information about familial aspects of MDD may be useful to clients at increased risk for MDD attending for genetic counseling. This study uses a mixed-methods design to assess the information needs and preferences of people at increased familial risk for MDD. Telephone interviews were conducted with 23 individuals, who had at least one first-degree relative with MDD and were recruited through advertisements placed on depression education websites. The most preferred way to access depression information was via the internet (87 % of participants), although this preference may have been due to the internet-based recruitment method. The second most preferred dissemination strategy (56 %) was face-to-face delivery through a health professional, including genetic counselors. Individuals reported a need for information about etiology and development of MDD, reproductive decision-making, early detection of symptoms and risk-reducing strategies. Nearly all participants expressed an interest in risk assessment. The present study found evidence of a high level of interest for information targeted to people at increased familial risk for MDD. Genetic counselors are likely to be called upon increasingly to provide supportive counseling to assist clients at increased familial risk in interpreting and contextualizing such information once it becomes available.


Major depression Family history Attitudes Education Genetic counseling Risk assessment 



We are very grateful to the people who participated in this study and so generously shared their views. This study was supported by National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Program Grant and the Fellowship Enhancement Scheme, Faculty of Medicine, University of New South Wales. Associate Professor Bettina Meiser is supported by a Career Development Award Level 2 from the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia.

Informed consent

All procedures followed were in accordance with the ethical standards of the responsible committee on human experimentation (institutional and national) and with the Helsinki Declaration of 1975, as revised in 2000. Informed consent was obtained from all patients for being included in the study.

Conflict of interest

Authors Veronica Quinn, Author Bettina Meiser, Author Alex Wilde, Author Zoe Cousins, Author Kristine Barlow-Stewart, Author Philip B. Mitchell and Author Peter R. Schofield declare they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© National Society of Genetic Counselors, Inc. 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Veronica Quinn
    • 1
  • Bettina Meiser
    • 1
    Email author
  • Alex Wilde
    • 2
    • 3
  • Zoe Cousins
    • 1
  • Kristine Barlow-Stewart
    • 4
    • 5
  • Philip B. Mitchell
    • 2
    • 3
    • 6
  • Peter R. Schofield
    • 6
    • 7
    • 8
  1. 1.Psychosocial Research Group, Prince of Wales Clinical SchoolThe University of New South WalesSydneyAustralia
  2. 2.School of PsychiatryUniversity of New South WalesSydneyAustralia
  3. 3.Black Dog InstituteSydneyAustralia
  4. 4.Sydney Medical SchoolUniversity of SydneySydneyAustralia
  5. 5.Centre for Genetics Education NSW HealthRoyal North Shore HospitalSydneyAustralia
  6. 6.Brain SciencesUniversity of New South WalesSydneyAustralia
  7. 7.Neuroscience Research AustraliaSydneyAustralia
  8. 8.School of Medical SciencesUniversity of New South WalesSydneyAustralia

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