Understanding the decision to take the predictive test for Huntington disease

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Meissen, Gregory J.
Mastromauro, C. A.
Kiely, D. K.
McNamara, D. S.
Myers, R. H.

American journal of medical genetics. 1991 Jun 15; 39(4): 404-10.


The predictive test for Huntington disease (HD) has allowed those at risk to determine gene status prior to symptoms. The purpose of this research was to understand the motivation and the anticipated reactions of those requesting the test. Forty persons at 50% risk for HD and 31 companions participated in a structured personal interview as part of the predictive test protocol. Reasons for taking the test centered on the reduction of anxiety and uncertainty associated with being at risk and enhanced planning and decision making. Participants also believed that taking the test would produce more positive than negative outcomes. With a favorable result, most anticipated a reduction of anxiety, a more normal future, and relief knowing their children would be at a very low risk. Most also cited benefits as more likely than consequences with an unfavorable result. Making the most of life, easier planning, and reduced uncertainty were rated as more likely than any of the adverse impacts, including short-term depression and becoming frightened. Almost all participants (95%) said they would rather learn that they have the HD gene than remain at 50% risk. The uncertainty, anxiety, and chronic stress associated with being at risk appears to underlie the motivation of many seeking the predictive test for HD.

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