Journal of Genetic Counseling

, Volume 26, Issue 1, pp 173–181 | Cite as

Psychosocial and Clinical Factors Associated with Family Communication of Cancer Genetic Test Results among Women Diagnosed with Breast Cancer at a Young Age

  • Ashley Elrick
  • Sato Ashida
  • Jennifer Ivanovich
  • Sarah Lyons
  • Barbara B. Biesecker
  • Melody S. Goodman
  • Kimberly A. Kaphingst
Original Research


Genetic test results have medical implications beyond the patient that extend to biological family members. We examined psychosocial and clinical factors associated with communication of genetic test results within families. Women (N = 1080) diagnosed with breast cancer at age 40 or younger completed an online survey; 920 women that reported prior cancer genetic testing were included in analysis. We examined the proportion of immediate family members to whom they communicated genetic test results, and built multivariable regression models to examine clinical and psychosocial variables associated with the proportion score. Participants were most likely to communicate test results to their mother (83 %) and least likely to their son (45 %). Participants who carried a BRCA mutation (OR = 1.34; 95 % CI = 1.06, 1.70), had higher interest in genomic information (OR = 1.55; 95 % CI = 1.26, 1.91) and lower genetic worry (OR = 0.91; 95 % CI = 0.86, 0.96) communicated genetic test results to a greater proportion of their immediate family members. Participants with a BRCA1/2 mutation shared their genetic test results with more male family members (OR = 1.72; 95 % CI = 1.02, 2.89). Our findings suggest that patients with high worry about genetic risks, low interest in genomic information, or receive a negative genetic test result will likely need additional support to encourage family communication.


Genetics BRCA 1/2 Family communication Breast cancer 


Compliance with Ethical Standards


This study was funded by R01 CA168608. Effort for BBB was supported by the National Human Genome Research Institute’s Intramural Research Program.

Conflict of Interest

Ashley Elrick, Sato Ashida, Jennifer Ivanovich, Sarah Lyons, Barbara B. Biesecker, Melody S. Goodman and Kimberly A. Kaphingst declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human Subjects and 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.

Animal Studies

No animal studies were carried out by the authors for this article.


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Copyright information

© National Society of Genetic Counselors, Inc. 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ashley Elrick
    • 1
  • Sato Ashida
    • 2
  • Jennifer Ivanovich
    • 3
  • Sarah Lyons
    • 3
  • Barbara B. Biesecker
    • 4
  • Melody S. Goodman
    • 3
  • Kimberly A. Kaphingst
    • 1
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of CommunicationUniversity of UtahSalt Lake CityUSA
  2. 2.College of Public HealthUniversity of IowaIowa CityUSA
  3. 3.Division of Public Health Sciences, Department of SurgeryWashington University School of MedicineSt. LouisUSA
  4. 4.Social and Behavioral Research BranchNational Human Genome Research InstituteBethesdaUSA
  5. 5.Huntsman Cancer InstituteUniversity of UtahSalt Lake CityUSA

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