Coping Self-Efficacy and Its Relationship with Psychological Morbidity after Genetic Test Result Disclosure: Results from Cancer-Unaffected BRCA1/2 Mutation Carriers

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2023 Jan 17;20(3):1684. doi: 10.3390/ijerph20031684.


Women who are found to carry a BRCA1/2 pathogenic variant experience psychological distress due to an increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer. They may decide between different preventive options. In this secondary analysis of data collected alongside a larger randomized controlled trial, we are looking at 130 newly found BRCA1/2 pathogenic variant carriers and how their coping self-efficacy immediately after genetic test result disclosure is related to their psychological burden and status of preventive decision making. Participants received the Coping Self-Efficacy Scale, the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale, the Impact of Event Scale, the Decisional Conflict Scale, and the Stage of Decision-Making Scale after positive genetic test result disclosure. We found that women with higher coping self-efficacy showed fewer symptoms of anxiety or depression and were less affected by receiving the genetic test result in terms of post-traumatic stress. However, coping self-efficacy had no relationship with any decision-related criteria, such as decisional conflict or stage of decision making. This shows that despite its buffering capacity on psychological burden, possessing coping self-efficacy does not lead to more decisiveness in preference-sensitive decisions.

Keywords: BRCA1; BRCA2; anxiety; breast cancer; psychological burden; self-efficacy.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • BRCA1 Protein / genetics
  • Breast Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Breast Neoplasms* / psychology
  • Female
  • Genes, BRCA1
  • Genes, BRCA2
  • Genetic Testing*
  • Humans
  • Morbidity
  • Mutation
  • Ovarian Neoplasms* / diagnosis
  • Ovarian Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Ovarian Neoplasms* / psychology
  • Self Efficacy*


  • BRCA1 Protein
  • BRCA1 protein, human

Grants and funding

This research was funded by the Innovation Fund of the German Federal Joint Committee, grant no. 01VSF17043. The source of funding was not involved in the study design, data collection, analysis, and interpretation, or report writing or publication.