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Examining the Psychosocial Impact of Genetic Testing for Cardiomyopathies

Journal title
Journal of genetic counseling
Publication year
Wynn, J.; Holland, D. T.; Duong, J.; Ahimaz, P.; Chung, W. K.

Inherited cardiomyopathies, including hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) and dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), are the most common monogenic cause of cardiac disease and can rarely lead to sudden cardiac death (SCD). They are characterized by incomplete and age-dependent penetrance and are usually initially symptomatic in adulthood yet can present in childhood as well. Over 20 genes have been identified to cause HCM, and more than 40 genes are known to cause DCM. Genetic testing for these genes has been integrated into medical care; however, the psychological impact of genetic testing and the impact of the uncertainty that comes with receiving these results have not been well studied. This study surveyed 90 adult probands and relatives with a personal or family history of cardiomyopathy from a single hospital-based cardiac genetic program to determine the psychosocial impact of genetic testing for cardiomyopathies. Standardized psychological instruments including an adapted Multidimensional Impact of Cancer Risk Assessment (aMICRA), Impact of Event Scale (IES), and Satisfaction with Decision (SWD) scales were utilized. Patients with positive genetic test results had higher scores for intrusive thoughts, avoidance, and distress when compared to those with negative genetic test results and were also more likely to make or plan to make life changes because of the results of their genetic testing. Satisfaction with the decision to undergo genetic testing was similar regardless of genetic test results. The results of this study provide insight into the patient experience of genetic testing for cardiomyopathies and how these experiences are associated with genetic test results and cardiac history.

Research abstracts