Associations between relationship support and psychological reactions of participants and partners to BRCA1 and BRCA2 testing in a clinic-based sample
- Cite this article as:
- Manne, S., Audrain, J., Schwartz, M. et al. ann. behav. med. (2004) 28: 211. doi:10.1207/s15324796abm2803_10
Background: Despite the potential importance of communication about genetic testing between test participants and their significant others, little is known about social support and communication between women undergoing BRCA1 and BRCA2 testing and their partners.Purpose: The aims of this longitudinal study were to examine communication about genetic testing during and following testing and to evaluate whether communication is associated with psychological distress reported by test participants and their partners.Methods: Participants were 153 women who were undergoing genetic testing and 118 partners of women undergoing testing. Relationship communication and distress were evaluated at the time of pretest education and 6 months postdisclosure.Results: Overall, the decision to undergo testing was discussed by the majority of test participants and partners, and most couples felt their partners were supportive. Most women disclosed their results to their partners. Longitudinal analyses suggested that less support and protective buffering were associated with greater distress 6 months postdisclosure among test participants, whereas lower comfort in sharing concerns and partner support were associated with lower distress 6 months postdisclosure among partners.Conclusions: The results of this study suggest that the majority of couples respond supportively during the test experience, but for a small subset of couples the process can strain the relationship. Partner support during this process is important, particularly for test participants dealing with an uninformative test result.