Return of individual genetic results in a high-risk sample: enthusiasm and positive behavioral change

Genet Med. 2015 May;17(5):374-9. doi: 10.1038/gim.2014.110. Epub 2014 Aug 28.


Purpose: The goal of this study was to examine participant responses to disclosure of genetic results in a minority population at high risk for depression and anxiety.

Methods: Eighty-two subjects in a genetic study of nicotine dependence were offered personalized genetic results. All were nicotine-dependent and 64% self-identified as African American. Pathway Genomics was used to evaluate genetic risks for five complex diseases. Participants returned 4-8 weeks after enrollment for in-person genetic counseling interviews and evaluation of baseline measures. A telephone follow-up was performed 4-8 weeks later to assess responses to results.

Results: Fifty of the 82 subjects (61%) were interested in receiving genetic results. These participants had multiple risk factors, including high baseline measures of depression (66%) and anxiety (32%), as well as low rates of employment (46%), adequate health literacy (46%), and health insurance (45%). Pathway Genomics reported "increased risk" for at least one disease in 77% of subjects. Ninety-five percent of participants reported that they appreciated the genetic results, and receiving these results was not associated with changes in symptoms of depression or anxiety. Furthermore, after return of genetic results, smoking cessation attempts increased (P = 0.003).

Conclusion: Even in an underserved population at high risk for adverse psychological reactions, subjects responded positively to personalized genetic results.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety / epidemiology
  • Anxiety / etiology*
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Depression / etiology*
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Genetic Testing*
  • Humans
  • Public Health Surveillance*
  • Risk Factors
  • Truth Disclosure*