Parent-child factors and their effect on communicating BRCA1/2 test results to children

Patient Educ Couns. 2002 Jun;47(2):145-53. doi: 10.1016/s0738-3991(01)00192-6.


The purpose of the present study was to evaluate the likelihood and the effect of parent-child factors on communicating about maternal genetic test results for breast/ovarian cancer risk. Subjects were 42 mothers enrolled in a hereditary breast cancer research program who reported on their interactions with 68 target children. Predictor variables (demographic, clinical, and psychological) were assessed at baseline after mothers participated in a comprehensive genetic counseling/education session and provided a blood sample for BRCA1/2 mutation analysis. Maternal communication of test results to children was assessed 1 month after mothers learned their mutation status. The rate of disclosure to pediatric-age children was 53%. Older children were more likely to be informed of their mothers' test results than were younger children. Maternal disclosure of genetic test results to children was also more likely to occur in the presence of more open parent-child communication styles, though the act of disclosing did not appear to impact communication style. These findings suggest that in addition to developmental phase, family behavioral interactions and communication styles are strongly predictive of whether or not mothers choose to share cancer genetic risk information with their children.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Child
  • Female
  • Genes, BRCA1
  • Genes, BRCA2
  • Genetic Testing*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Parent-Child Relations*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Truth Disclosure*