BRCA1/2 testing in hereditary breast and ovarian cancer families: Effectiveness of problem-solving training as a counseling intervention
Medical Genetics Branch, NHGRI, NIH, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, USA.American Journal of Medical Genetics Part A (Impact Factor: 2.16). 10/2004; 130A(3):221-7. DOI: 10.1002/ajmg.a.30265
It remains uncertain whether members of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer (HBOC) families experience psychological distress with genetic testing and whether pre-test counseling can have a moderating effect on client well-being. One purpose of this study was to assess change in psychological well-being from baseline to 6-9 months follow-up and the effect of a problem-solving training (PST) intervention on psychological well-being. Two hundred and twelve members of 13 HBOC families were offered BRCA1/2 testing for a previously identified family mutation. Participants received education and were randomized to one of two counseling interventions; PST or client-centered counseling. Psychological well-being was assessed at baseline and again at 6-9 months following the receipt of test results, or at the equivalent time for those participants who chose not to undergo testing. Well-being was assessed using measures of depressive symptoms (CESD), intrusive thoughts (IES), cancer worries, and self-esteem. Comparisons were made between those who chose testing and those who did not as well as between those who received positive and negative test results. One hundred eighty one participants elected to undergo genetic testing (85%) and 47 of these (26%) were identified as BRCA1/2 mutation carriers. Breast and ovarian cancer worries decreased significantly (p = 0.007 and 0.008, respectively) in those who tested negative while there was no appreciable change in psychological well-being from baseline to follow-up in either those who tested positive or in non-testers. Among all participants, particularly testers, those randomized to PST had a greater reduction in depressive symptoms than those randomized to client-centered counseling (p < 0.05 and p = 0.02, respectively). Regardless of the decision to test, individuals with a personal history of cancer (n = 22) were more likely to have an increase in breast cancer worries compared to those who had never been diagnosed with cancer (p < 0.001). Results suggest that a problem-solving counseling intervention may help to enhance psychological well-being following testing and that a personal history of cancer may increase psychological distress associated with genetic testing.
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ABSTRACT: Members of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer (HBOC) families often express concern during genetic counseling about the impact of BRCA1/2 testing on close relatives. Yet whether there are likely to be adverse effects of either the decision to undergo genetic testing or the results of testing on family relationships is unknown. One purpose of this study was to assess the impact on close family relationships. Within a randomized trial of breast cancer genetic counseling methods, members of 13 HBOC families were offered BRCA1/2 testing for a known family mutation. The Family Relationship Index (FRI) of the Family Environment Scale (FES) was used to measure perceived family cohesion, conflict, and expressiveness at baseline and again 6-9 months following the receipt of test results, or at the equivalent time for those who declined testing. Participants (n = 212) completed baseline and follow-up questionnaires. Comparisons were made between testers and non-testers as well as between those who tested positive and negative for the family mutation. One hundred eighty-one participants elected to undergo genetic testing (85%) and 47 (26%) were identified to have a mutation. After adjusting for baseline family relationship scores, counseling intervention, gender and marital status, non-testers reported a greater increase in expressiveness (P = 0.006) and cohesion (P = 0.04) than testers. Individuals who tested positive reported a decrease in expressiveness (P = 0.07), although as a trend. Regardless of test decision or test result, those who were randomized to a client-centered counseling intervention reported a decrease in conflict (P = 0.006). Overall, study results suggest that undergoing genetic testing and learning ones BRCA1/2 status may affect family relationships. Those individuals who declined testing reported feeling closer to family members and more encouraged to express emotions to other family members demonstrating potential benefit from the offer of testing. Since those who tested positive reported feeling less encouraged to express their emotions within the family, we recommend helping clients to identify others with whom they feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and feelings about their positive gene status and increased cancer risk.
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