Genetic Issues
Most Respond Well to Genetic Testing Results
Oct 21, 2014 - 3:43:36 PM

( - People at high risk for psychological distress respond positively to receiving results of personalized genetic testing, according to new research at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

More than 60 percent of subjects in the genetic study wanted information about their test results, which detailed the risks for lung, prostate and colorectal cancers, type 2 diabetes and heart attack. And 95 percent said they appreciated receiving the information, regardless of whether the results were good or bad news.

The findings, published online in the journal Genetics in Medicine, are somewhat surprising because most subjects were considered part of a vulnerable population. They had a higher than normal risk for depression, and about half were unemployed with no health insurance.

"There have been big ethical debates about whether people would want to know they were at risk for deadly diseases such as Huntington's disease," said first author Sarah M. Hartz, MD, PhD. "But most of medicine doesn't work that way. If you get an X-ray for a lingering cough, and the radiologist finds a mass in your lung, no one asks beforehand if you want to know whether you have lung cancer."

HartzHartz, an assistant professor of psychiatry, said that as genome sequencing technology has become less expensive and more commonly available, it's now possible to find additional information unrelated to the diseases researchers set out to investigate.

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