The aim of this study was to evaluate the likelihood, correlates, and psychological impact of parental communication to children of parents' BRCA1/2 genetic test results for breast cancer risk. Subjects were 133 adult members of high risk families. Sociodemographic, clinical, and psychological distress variables were assessed during a baseline telephone interview conducted prior to patient education and test result notification. Parental communication of test results to children and parental psychological distress and coping efforts were assessed 1 month post-genetic counseling and receipt of test results. Mothers (versus fathers), and persons with higher levels of baseline general distress, were significantly more likely to communicate their test results to children. Post-counseling coping efforts, both active and avoidant, were positively associated with post-counseling distress levels. However, communication of test results to children did not relate to changes in distress. In conclusion, parents with higher levels of pre-counseling general psychological distress may be more likely to communicate their genetic test results to children; however, this act does not minimize their distress and could possibly generate distress in their youngsters. Research is needed to evaluate the process and content of post-test disclosure episodes and the impact on participant, child, and family functioning.
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