Psychological Factors Associated with Emotional Responses to Receiving Genetic Risk Information

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Abstract

This study identified levels of distress, and predictors of levels of distress, in women undergoing assessment for genetic risk of breast/ovarian cancer based on their family history. It comprised a cohort study following 154 women who completed questionnaires at entry into a cancer genetic assessment programme and following risk provision. Independent significant associates of anxiety following risk provision were age, neuroticism, feeling hopeless about developing cancer, a perceived lack of control over developing cancer, lack of a social confidant, and a coping response involving acceptance/resignation. Depression was associated with age, neuroticism, feeling hopeless about developing cancer, lack of social confidant, and a coping response involving acceptance/resignation. To avoid high levels of psychological morbidity in future cohorts undergoing cancer genetic risk assessment, information should be given that emphasises that some degree of control over health outcomes through behaviour change or increased surveillance is possible.

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