Reactions to predictive testing in Huntington disease: case reports of coping with a new genetic status

Am J Med Genet. 1997 Dec 19;73(3):356-65. doi: 10.1002/(sici)1096-8628(19971219)73:3<356::aid-ajmg24>;2-h.


A predictive testing program for Huntington disease has been available in Stockholm, Sweden since October 1990. Psychosocial assessments were performed throughout the testing program to evaluate the impact of the risk situation itself and the effect of predictive testing, and to identify those individuals who were most vulnerable to severe stress and anxiety reactions. All subjects underwent neurological, neuropsychological, and psychiatric examinations. Individuals undergoing predictive testing were assessed twice by a genetic counsellor before receiving their results, and at 10 days (gene carriers only) and then 2, 6, 12, and 24 months after receiving the results. The process of coping with the test results and the psychological adjustment to knowledge about new genetic status have been shown to vary considerably. In this report, we describe the results obtained from two gene carriers and two noncarriers. The four persons chosen represent different ways of coping with the outcome of the test and of integrating knowledge about their genetic status into everyday life. These cases illustrate common themes and recurrent problems often surfacing during the counselling and testing process. The longitudinal evaluations provide information about the impact, adaptation, and long-term effects of living with a new genetic status.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Genetic Testing / adverse effects
  • Genetic Testing / psychology*
  • Health Status Indicators
  • Heterozygote
  • Humans
  • Huntington Disease / genetics*
  • Huntington Disease / psychology*
  • Interview, Psychological
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Stress, Psychological