Problems assessing uptake of Huntington disease predictive testing and a proposed solution

Eur J Hum Genet. 2009 Jan;17(1):66-70. doi: 10.1038/ejhg.2008.142. Epub 2008 Jul 30.


The uptake of predictive testing for Huntington disease informs our understanding of decision making by those at risk and assists with planning for service provision. Uptake figures have been reported from several centers based on the total number of people who have undertaken predictive testing as a percentage of those estimated to be at 50% risk in the region. This method produced a figure of 35% from our own service, much higher than observation of the local pedigrees indicated, and higher than other published reports. We have identified some errors in the commonly used formula. The major errors are the use of the cumulative total of those who have had testing with a static denominator of those at 50% risk, and the failure to exclude from the at-risk group those who are too young and therefore ineligible to test.We report data from the Huntington Disease Register of Victoria and estimate the prevalence to be 8 per 100,000 in 1999. Additional data on individuals at risk were collated. We found that for every diagnosed person there were 4.2 individuals at 50% risk, a lower ratio than one to five hypothesized in the literature. We examined these ratios in the context of uptake.Significantly, we provide a solution to the calculation of uptake with a formula that factors in a dynamic denominator and corrects for the number of years testing has been offered. Using this formula, we calculated an uptake of 13.0-15.4% for the state of Victoria, Australia. This formula can be used to compare uptake across different centers.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Genetic Testing*
  • Humans
  • Huntington Disease / diagnosis*
  • Huntington Disease / epidemiology
  • Huntington Disease / genetics*
  • Registries
  • Risk Assessment
  • Victoria / epidemiology