Psychosocial Impact of Predictive Testing for Illness on Children and Families: Challenges for a New Millennium

  • Kenneth P. Tercyak
  • Randi Streisand
  • Beth N. Peshkin
  • Caryn Lerman


Predictive testing for adult- and child-onset diseases is becoming widely available. The identification of individuals prone to develop certain illnesses is often medically advantageous in that it may afford opportunities to engage in risk reduction behaviors to detect or delay disease onset. However, sometimes the knowledge gained from these tests can be ambiguous, generate distress, and potentially affect several generations of family members. Overall, these factors create a challenging set of circumstances for persons considering genetic and other forms of predictive testing, particularly parents and children. In this article, we (1) address conceptual issues involved in determining the impact of predictive testing on child and family well-being, (2) review empirical data on this topic, and (3) provide a case example to illustrate these findings. Recommendations are made for additional psychological research on child- and family-focused outcomes associated with participation in testing, highlighting their clinical implications.

genetic testing communication parent–child relations parents children family 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kenneth P. Tercyak
    • 1
  • Randi Streisand
    • 2
  • Beth N. Peshkin
    • 1
  • Caryn Lerman
    • 1
  1. 1.Lombardi Cancer CenterGeorgetown University Medical CenterWashington
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyChildren's National Medical CenterWashington

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