An experimental investigation of factors involved in the decision to undertake genetic testing for schizophrenia.
Salkovskis PM., Rimes KA., Bolton J., Wroe AL.
BACKGROUND: The psychological issues surrounding genetic testing, particularly decision-making processes, are not well understood. Previous studies suggest that apparently "nondirective" strategies intended to help individuals consider the consequences of undergoing predictive testing for physical illness can influence the decision. AIMS: To investigate the influence of selectively focussing on different aspects of previously provided information concerning genetic testing for schizophrenia. METHOD: Community participants (n = 120) rated how likely they would be to arrange to have a genetic test for schizophrenia if it were available, before and after being given detailed information about schizophrenia and the implications of testing. Participants were then randomly allocated to four groups, and were implicitly focused on the negative issues (negative group), the positive issues (positive group), both the negative and positive issues (all-focusing group) or schizophrenia-irrelevant health-related issues (control group). All issues on which the experimental groups focussed were included in the information provided and the form of questioning meets current definitions of nondirectiveness. RESULTS: Hypothetical decisions whether to arrange a genetic test for schizophrenia were influenced by the issues on which participants had focused; the positive group were more likely to say they would be tested relative to the other groups. CONCLUSIONS: Decisions about genetic testing for schizophrenia were influenced by the specific issues on which individuals were encouraged to focus at that time.