Online Program

Short-term psychological benefits to consumer genetic testing: Findings from the pgen study

Monday, November 4, 2013 : 11:45 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

Kurt D. Christensen, MPH, PhD, Division of Genetics, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA
J. Scott Roberts, PhD, Department of Health Behavior and Health Education, University of Michigan School of Public Health, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109, MI
Sarah S. Kalia, ScM, CGC, Division of Genetics, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA
Joanna Mountain, PhD, 23andMe, Inc
Tanya Moreno, PhD, Pathway Genomics
Robert C. Green, MD, MPH, Division of Genetics, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA
Background: While disclosure of genetic information in clinical settings rarely causes lasting psychological distress, few studies have examined the emotional impact in consumer settings. Methods: Prior to DNA analysis and again 2 weeks and 6 months after receiving genetic profiles, 1,853 customers of consumer genetics services completed the 2-item Generalized Anxiety Disorder scale (GAD), the 2-item Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ), and a 2-item positive affect scale adapted from the Mental Health Index (MHI) (scale ranges: 2-8). In addition, customers reported results-specific responses by completing a 7-item distress (range: 0-35) and 2-item positive affect (range: 0-10) scale adapted from the Impact of Genetic Testing for Alzheimer's disease (IGT-AD) scale at each follow-up. Trends over time were analyzed using generalized estimating equations controlling for gender, race, age, education, and company.

Results: Two weeks post-disclosure, customers showed minor decreases in general anxiety (Δ=-.22, p<.001) and depression (Δ=-.14, p<.001), while showing increases in positive affect (Δ=.15, p=.002). However, differences from baseline were no longer statistically significant 6 months after disclosure (GAD: Δ=-.07, p=.10; PHQ: Δ=-.04, p=.31; MHI: Δ=-.06, p=.24). Results-specific distress decreased between the 2 week and 6 month follow-ups ( Δ=-.43, p=.005) as did results-specific positive affect (Δ=-.37, p<.001).

Conclusions: Consumers' moods improved immediately after disclosure of genetic profiles and returned to baseline over time. Results are consistent with prior findings from research on consumer genetic testing. Ongoing analyses in the PGen Study will examine how specific genetic profile results affected emotional responses.

Learning Areas:

Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Provision of health care to the public
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe psychological responses to consumer genetic testing and how they change over time.

Keyword(s): Genetics, Depression

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I work on numerous NIH-funded studies examining the psychological impact of genetic susceptibility information, and am PI of an NHGRI grant exploring the psychosocial impact of incidental genetic information disclosure. My PhD dissertation focused on psychological responses to APOE genotyping for Alzheimer's disease risk, and my training focused on health behavior/health education with certification in public health genomics.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.