Genetic test reporting enhances understanding of risk information and acceptance of prevention recommendations compared to family history-based counseling alone

J Behav Med. 2015 Oct;38(5):740-53. doi: 10.1007/s10865-015-9648-z. Epub 2015 Jul 16.


It is unknown whether or why genetic test reporting confers benefits in the understanding and management of cancer risk beyond what patients learn from counseling based on family history. A prospective nonexperimental control group study compared participants from melanoma-prone families who underwent CDKN2A/p16 (p16) genetic testing (27 carriers, 38 noncarriers) to participants from equivalently melanoma-prone families known not to carry a deleterious p16 mutation (31 no-test controls). All participants received equivalent counseling concerning elevated lifetime melanoma risk and corresponding recommendations for prevention and screening. Both immediately and 1 month after counseling, participants receiving a genetic test result reported greater understanding of their risk, decreased derogation of the risk information, and greater personal applicability of prevention recommendations than no-test controls. Decreased derogation of risk information after test reporting predicted further increases in understanding of melanoma risk and applicability of prevention recommendations 1 month later. Results suggest unique benefits of genetic test reporting in promoting understanding and acceptance of information about hereditary cancer risk and its management.

Keywords: CDKN2A/p16; Defensive processing; Genetic testing; Illness coherence; Melanoma; Understanding of risk.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p16 / genetics*
  • Female
  • Genetic Counseling*
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease*
  • Genetic Testing*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Melanoma / genetics*
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Skin Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Young Adult


  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p16

Supplementary concepts

  • Melanoma, Cutaneous Malignant