Psychological responses to BRCA1 mutation testing: preliminary findings

Health Psychol. 1997 Jan;16(1):63-72. doi: 10.1037//0278-6133.16.1.63.


The short-term psychological responses of 60 adult women tested for a BRCA1 gene mutation associated with a high risk of breast and ovarian cancer were investigated. Participants were members of a large kindred enrolled in an ongoing prospective study of the psychosocial impact of genetic testing. Initial results from participants who completed both the pretest baseline and the 1-2 week posttest follow-up interviews are reported. Gene mutation carriers manifested significantly higher levels of test-related psychological distress, as measured by the Impact of Event Scale, when compared with noncarriers. The highest levels of test-related distress were observed among mutation carriers with no history of cancer or cancer-related surgery. Although general distress (state anxiety) declined after testing, carriers were more distressed than noncarriers at follow-up.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anxiety / etiology
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics
  • Breast Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Consanguinity
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Genes, BRCA1 / genetics*
  • Genetic Testing / psychology*
  • Heterozygote*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Mutation*
  • Neoplasms / psychology
  • Regression Analysis
  • Stress, Psychological / etiology*
  • Time Factors