Long-term impact of Huntington disease linkage testing

Academic Article


  • We performed a long-term follow-up of Huntington disease (HD) predictive testing (an average of 6 years post-test) for 16 of 20 people who received informative linkage test results. Although no pre-test or baseline psychological differences were noted between those with an increased versus a decreased risk of HD, the long-term impact was dramatically different in these two groups. The low-risk group reported less uncertainty, anxiety or worry, fear, and worry about children's risk, whereas the high-risk group reported either the same or increased concern in these areas. Those at low risk also acknowledged an increased sense of control and self-esteem, whereas those at high risk reported decreases or no changes. One high-risk individual reported chronic depression that had occurred since the testing. Additionally, those at low risk reported greater reliance and faith in spiritual or religious beliefs than those at high risk. The emotional impact of HD genetic testing justifies the continued utilization of pre- and post- test counseling protocols. Pre-test counseling should include discussion of the known risks and benefits of predictive testing, with special emphasis on the participant's expectations for future change and improvement. Although the psychological impact appears mostly favorable for those with decreased risk, there is risk for a decline in psychological well-being over time for those with an increased risk for HD.
  • Author List

  • Taylor CA; Myers RH
  • Start Page

  • 365
  • End Page

  • 370
  • Volume

  • 70
  • Issue

  • 4