The psychological impact of genetic testing on parents

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Aim and objectivesThe aim of this descriptive study was to explore the psychological impact of genetic testing on parents whose children have been referred for genetic testing.BackgroundGenetic tests enable individuals to be informed about their health status and to have the opportunity of early diagnosis and treatment of their diseases. However undergoing genetic testing and receiving a positive test result may also cause stress and anxiety.Study design and methodThis descriptive study was carried out at the genetic departments of two university hospitals in Ankara. The sample of this study consisted of 128 individuals whose children have been referred for chromosomal analysis. Data were collected through using a semi-structured interview method with a data collection form and the anxiety inventory and analysed using the percentages and independent samples t-test.ResultsThe majority of our participants experienced distress before genetic testing. Their general trait anxiety score before receiving the test results was 47·38, and following the test results the state anxiety score was 50·65. Having a previous child with an abnormality, a positive test result, and being a mother elevated the anxiety of individuals.ConclusionThis paper supports the findings of previous studies, which indicated that genetic test results might lead to anxiety in individuals and reveals the importance of genetic counselling.Relevance to clinical practiceAs the results of this study indicated, genetic testing causes distress and anxiety in individuals. Nurses can play an important role in minimizing anxiety of parents whose children undergo genetic testing by providing information about genetic testing and by taking part in the counselling process.

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