An investigation of the disclosure process and support needs of BRCA1 and BRCA2 carriers

Am J Med Genet A. 2004 Mar 15;125A(3):267-72. doi: 10.1002/ajmg.a.20485.


Disclosure of the results of a positive genetic mutation to offspring can be challenging. The purpose of this study was to investigate the content and process of disclosure from BRCA1/2 carriers to their offspring. A semi-structured questionnaire focused on the disclosure processes between parent and offspring. Thirty-one/40 mothers with BRCA1/2 mutations completed the cross-sectional survey. Sixteen carriers (51.6%) chose to disclose their results to all of their children, thirteen carriers (41.9%) chose not to disclose their results, and two carriers (6.5%) chose to disclose to some of their children. The age of a child appeared to be the most significant contributing factor in the decision to disclose. The mean age of the offspring who learned of the positive test result was 24.3 years with most carriers advocating the ideal age range for disclosure from 19 to 25 years. There was a discrepancy between actual and potential disclosure topics between those who had disclosed and those who had not disclosed at the time of the survey. Women who disclosed their result tended to do so alone, within a week of learning their own results, equally to male and female offspring and expressed that the relationships between themselves and their children had strengthened since revealing the presence of a genetic mutation in the family. Women who had not disclosed the results of their genetic test to offspring were significantly more interested in receiving additional individual counseling, educational videos, and email newsletters that focus on disclosure of this complex and life altering information compared to those who had already disclosed. Disclosure of BRCA1/2 results is determined primarily by age of offspring, is usually done by women alone, relatively soon after receiving results and appears to enhance the relationships between mothers and offspring. Both disclosed and non-disclosed carriers demonstrated significant interest in a variety of interventions to support the disclosure process.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Breast Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Breast Neoplasms / psychology
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Data Collection
  • Disclosure*
  • Female
  • Genes, BRCA1*
  • Genes, BRCA2*
  • Genetic Testing / psychology*
  • Heterozygote*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / psychology
  • Parent-Child Relations
  • Surveys and Questionnaires