Parents' attitudes toward genetic research in autism spectrum disorder

Psychiatr Genet. 2016 Apr;26(2):74-80. doi: 10.1097/YPG.0000000000000121.


Objective: Genetic research in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is mainly performed in minors who are legally unable to provide consent. Thus, knowledge of the attitudes, fears, and expectations toward genetic research of the parents is important. Knowledge of the attitudes toward genetic research will improve cooperation between researchers and participants, and help establish confidence in ASD genetic research. The present study aimed to assess these attitudes.

Materials and methods: Questionnaire-based assessments of attitudes toward genetic research and toward procedures in genetic research of n=1455 parents of individuals with ASD were performed.

Results: The main motivation for participation in genetic research is to gain more knowledge of the causes and disease mechanisms of ASD (83.6%), and to contribute toward development of improved treatment in the future (63.7%). The parents also had a positive attitude towards storing genetic information (54.3%) and they requested confidentiality of data (82.9%) and expressed a need to be informed about the purpose (89%) and progress of the research (83.7%). We found a slightly more positive attitude to participation in genetic research among older parents (P=0.015), among fathers compared with mothers (P=0.01), among parents of girls compared with boys (P=0.03), and infantile autism compared with Asperger syndrome (P=0.002). However, linear regression analysis showed that parent and child characteristics seem to have too small an influence on attitudes toward genetic research to be of any relevance (R(2)=0.002-0.02).

Conclusion: Parents of children with ASD have, in general, a very positive attitude toward genetic research. Data confidentiality is important, and they express a need for information on the purpose and progress of the research.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / genetics*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Genetic Research / ethics*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Norway
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Societies, Medical
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult