Predictive testing for Huntington disease in Canada: Adverse effects and unexpected results in those receiving a decreased risk
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By January 1, 1991, a total of 388 persons had enrolled in the Canadian collaborative study of predictive testing for Huntington disease (HD). Of these participants, 105 persons have been given a decreased risk result. Contrary to expectations, approximately 10% of persons with a decreased risk result have had psychological difficulties coping with their new status. Here, we describe the individual responses of 6 such persons and experimental themes emerging after following these persons for up to 2 years. Individuals who are more likely to suffer an adverse reaction to a decreased risk result include those persons who have made irreversible decisions based on the belief they would develop HD or those who had unrealistic overoptimistic expectations of the positive effects of a decreased risk result. In contrast to those receiving an increased risk result, the most vulnerable time for persons receiving a decreased risk result is between 2 and 12 months after learning the outcome. The need for assessment and counselling of participants in predictive testing programs, even when there is a decreased risk result, is emphasized.
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