The role of future-oriented affect in engagement with genomic testing results

J Behav Med. 2022 Feb;45(1):103-114. doi: 10.1007/s10865-021-00253-7. Epub 2021 Sep 4.


Future-oriented emotions such as anticipatory affect (i.e., current affect experienced regarding a potential future outcome) and anticipated affect (i.e., expectations about potential future affect), are uniquely associated with health decision-making (e.g., electing to receive results of genomic testing). This study investigated the degree to which negative anticipated and anticipatory emotions predict health decision making over time, and whether such emotions predict social, emotional, and behavioral responses to anticipated information (e.g., genomic testing results). 461 participants (M age = 63.9, SD = 5.61, 46% female) in a genomic sequencing cohort who elected to receive genomic sequencing (carrier) results were included in the current study. Anticipated and anticipatory affect about sequencing results were assessed at baseline. Psychological and behavioral responses to sequencing results, including participants' reported anxiety, decisional conflict, and distress about sequencing results, whether they shared results with family members, and their intentions to continue learning results in the future, were collected immediately, one month, and/or six months after receiving results. More negative anticipated and anticipatory affect at baseline was significantly and independently associated with lower intentions to continue learning results in the future, as well as higher levels of anxiety and uncertainty at multiple time points after receiving results. Anticipated negative affect was also associated with greater decisional conflict, and anticipatory negative affect was also associated with greater distress after receiving results. Future-oriented emotions may play an important role in decisions that unfold over time, with implications for genomic testing, behavioral medicine, and health decision-making broadly.

Keywords: Affect; Future-oriented emotions; Genomic sequencing; Genomic testing results; Health decision-making.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety
  • Decision Making
  • Emotions*
  • Female
  • Genetic Testing
  • Genomics*
  • Humans
  • Intention
  • Male
  • Middle Aged