Genetic testing: psychological aspects and implications

J Consult Clin Psychol. 2002 Jun;70(3):784-97. doi: 10.1037//0022-006x.70.3.784.


As the number of genes associated with inherited disease continues to grow, researchers and practitioners in behavioral medicine will encounter complex psychological issues faced by individuals at risk for these diseases. A review of the literature concerning prenatal, carrier, and predictive genetic testing suggests that the severity of psychological risks posed by research-based genetic testing is not great. However, subgroups of individuals with particular psychological traits may be more vulnerable to adverse effects. Available data do not provide evidence that genetic testing promotes changes in health-related behaviors. Thus, although there may be less of a role for mental health professionals in the psychological counseling of genetic testing participants, there is a need for research and practice to facilitate health protective behaviors in response to genetic risk information.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Genetic Counseling*
  • Humans
  • Molecular Biology / methods*
  • Prenatal Diagnosis*