We describe results from a survey designed to assess patterns of communication within families shortly after an individual receives results of BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation carrier status. Shortly after disclosure of BRCA1 and BRCA2 genetic test results, the proband was contacted by phone to administer the post disclosure survey. Questions asked included whether they had shared their results with their siblings or adult children, if there were difficulties in communicating the test results, and if there was any distress associated with the sharing of results. A total of 162 women who have received results from BRCA1 and BRCA2 genetic testing participated in the survey. The probands shared their results more often with their female than their male relatives (P < 0.001). Probands who had tested positive for a mutation in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene shared their results more often with their relatives than did probands who were not carriers (P = 0.002). Probands reported more often that their siblings rather than their adult children had difficulties understanding the results (P = 0.001). The probands who were carriers more often reported having difficulties explaining their results to their relatives (P < 0.001) and their relatives were upset on hearing the result more often than were the relatives of probands who were not carriers (P < 0.001). The probands who were carriers reported more often that they were upset explaining their results to their relatives than did the probands who were not carriers (P < 0.001). Individuals are disclosing their test results to their relatives. Probands who are BRCA1- or BRCA2-positive are more likely to experience difficulty and distress with the communication of their test results to family members.
Copyright 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.