Parents Feel Benefits of Genetic Testing Outweigh Risks

Parental willingness to test associated with better understanding of genetic health risks

MONDAY, April 18 (HealthDay News) -- Parents are interested in getting their children tested for genetic susceptibility to common, adult-onset health conditions, according to a study published online April 18 in Pediatrics.

Kenneth P. Tercyak, Ph.D., from the Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, D.C., and colleagues analyzed 219 parental attitudes toward pediatric genetic testing for eight common, adult-onset health conditions, and identified factors underlying these attitudes. Through an online survey they assessed the attitudes and beliefs of these parents about the risks and benefits of the multiplex genetic test, their willingness to consider the test for their child, and other psychosocial variables.

The investigators found that parents were moderately interested in pediatric testing, and that they felt the benefits of testing outweighed the risks (positive decisional balance). Having a positive decisional balance was associated with greater interest in children's gene-health associations, anticipation of better comprehension of the genetic health risks, and more positive reactions to learning their child has decreased health risks (adjusted R² = 0.33). Parental willingness to test was correlated with being a mother rather than a father, having an increased perception of their child's risks of genetic diseases, being more interested in their child's gene-health relationships, anticipating less difficulty in understanding these genetic health risks, and having more positive emotional reactions to decreased health risks as well as a positive decisional balance (adjusted R² = 0.57).

"Pediatricians should anticipate parents' interest in testing children and be prepared to facilitate informed decision making about such testing," the authors write.

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