Patients' reactions and follow-up testing decisions related to Tay-Sachs (HEXA) variants of uncertain significance results

Academic Article


  • JScreen is a national public health initiative based out of Emory University that provides reproductive carrier screening through an online portal and follow-up genetic counseling services. In 2014, JScreen began reporting to patients variants of uncertain significance (VUSs) in the gene that causes Tay-Sachs disease (HEXA). Genetic counseling was provided to discuss the VUS and patients were offered hexosaminidase A (HEXA) blood enzyme testing to assist with VUS reclassification. To identify patient reactions and factors influencing their follow-up testing decisions after receiving these results, we conducted a retrospective quantitative study by administering online surveys to 62 patients with HEXA VUSs. Participants who pursued enzyme testing and those who did not both experienced low levels of distress when receiving the VUS results. Perceptions of HEXA carrier status after genetic counseling, decisional conflict levels, plans to have children in the near future, time available to pursue enzyme testing, and eligibility for research were significant factors influencing decision-making to pursue or not pursue enzyme testing. Genetic counseling played an important role in helping patients understand the VUS and follow-up testing options. When discussing VUSs with patients, it would be beneficial for genetic counselors to focus on the patient's perception of the VUS, anxiety related to the uncertainty of their results, and follow-up options, when available.
  • Authors

    Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Yip T; Grinzaid KA; Bellcross C; Moore RH; Page PZ; Hardy MW
  • Start Page

  • 738
  • End Page

  • 749
  • Volume

  • 28
  • Issue

  • 4