Development and validation of a brief screening instrument for psychosocial risk associated with genetic testing: a pan-Canadian cohort study Academic Article uri icon

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  • OBJECTIVES: To develop a brief, reliable and valid instrument to screen psychosocial risk among those who are undergoing genetic testing for Adult-Onset Hereditary Disease (AOHD). DESIGN: A prospective two-phase cohort study. SETTING: 5 genetic testing centres for AOHD, such as cancer, Huntington's disease or haemochromatosis, in ambulatory clinics of tertiary hospitals across Canada. PARTICIPANTS: 141 individuals undergoing genetic testing were approached and consented to the instrument development phase of the study (Phase I). The Genetic Psychosocial Risk Instrument (GPRI) developed in Phase I was tested in Phase II for item refinement and validation. A separate cohort of 722 individuals consented to the study, 712 completed the baseline package and 463 completed all follow-up assessments. Most participants were female, at the mid-life stage. Individuals in advanced stages of the illness or with cognitive impairment or a language barrier were excluded. INTERVENTIONS: Phase I: GPRI items were generated from (1) a review of the literature, (2) input from genetic counsellors and (3) phase I participants. Phase II: further item refinement and validation were conducted with a second cohort of participants who completed the GPRI at baseline and were followed for psychological distress 1-month postgenetic testing results. PRIMARY AND SECONDARY OUTCOME MEASURES: GPRI, Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAM-D), Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale (HAM-A), Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI) and Impact of Event Scale (IES). RESULTS: The final 20-item GPRI had a high reliability-Cronbach's α at 0.81. The construct validity was supported by high correlations between GPRI and BSI and IES. The predictive value was demonstrated by a receiver operating characteristic curve of 0.78 plotting GPRI against follow-up assessments using HAM-D and HAM-A. CONCLUSIONS: With a cut-off score of 50, GPRI identified 84% of participants who displayed distress postgenetic testing results, supporting its potential usefulness in a clinical setting.


  • Esplen, Mary Jane
  • Cappelli, Mario
  • Wong, Jiahui
  • Bottorff, Joan L
  • Hunter, Jon
  • Carroll, June
  • Dorval, Michel
  • Wilson, Brenda
  • Allanson, Judith
  • Semotiuk, Kara
  • Aronson, Melyssa
  • Bordeleau, Louise
  • Charlemagne, Nicole
  • Meschino, Wendy

publication date

  • 2013