Communication about genetic testing in families of male BRCA1/2 carriers and non-carriers: patterns, priorities and problems.
Hallowell N., Ardern-Jones A., Eeles R., Foster C., Lucassen A., Moynihan C., Watson M.
This qualitative interview study explored the way in which information about predictive BRCA1/2 testing and its implications for children is disseminated within the families of at-risk men who undergo genetic testing. Twenty-nine in-depth interviews were carried out with family members [male patients (n = 17), their partners (n = 8) and adult children (n = 4)]. These explored the following themes: experiences of cancer and genetic testing, decision-making about testing and the communication of test results and genetic information within the immediate family. The interviews revealed that both male patients and their partners perceive themselves, rather than health professionals, as responsible for disclosing information about genetic testing and genetic risks to their children. Parents described three different communication strategies for the disclosure of genetic information to their children: complete openness, limited disclosure and total secrecy. The adoption of a particular communication strategy was justified in terms of children's rights to information vs their parental duties to protect their children from anxiety-provoking information. Some of the problems arising from the adoption of different disclosure patterns are identified and the implications for clinical practice are discussed.