Parents' Attitudes Toward Pediatric Genetic Testing for Common Disease Risk

Division of Health Outcomes and Health Behaviors, Department of Oncology, Georgetown University Medical Center, 3300 Whitehaven St, NW, Suite 4100, Washington, DC 20007, USA.
PEDIATRICS (Impact Factor: 5.3). 05/2011; 127(5):e1288-95. DOI: 10.1542/peds.2010-0938
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT To describe parents' attitudes toward pediatric genetic testing for common, adult-onset health conditions and to identify factors underlying these attitudes.
Parents (n = 219) enrolled in a large, group-practice health plan were offered a "multiplex" genetic test for susceptibility to 8 common, adult-onset health conditions and completed an online survey assessing attitudes and beliefs about the risks and benefits of the test for their child, their willingness to consider having their child tested, and other psychosocial variables.
Parents viewed the benefits of pediatric testing to outweigh its risks (positive decisional balance) and were moderately interested in pediatric testing. Variables associated with positive decisional balance included greater interest in knowing about gene-health associations in their child, anticipation of less difficulty understanding their child's genetic health risks, and more positive emotional reactions to learning about their child's decreased health risks (adjusted R(2) = 0.33, P < .0001). Similarly, variables associated with greater parental willingness to test were being a mother (versus being a father), greater perceived risk of diseases in their child, greater interest in knowing about gene-health relationships in their child, anticipating less difficulty learning about their child's genetic health risks, anticipating more positive emotional reactions to learning about their child's decreased health risks, and positive decisional balance (adjusted R(2) = 0.57, P < .0001).
As genetic susceptibility testing for common, adult-onset health conditions proliferates, pediatricians should anticipate parents' interest in testing children and be prepared to facilitate informed decision making about such testing.

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