Objective of this paper is to study how DNA-test result information was communicated and perceived within families. A retrospective descriptive study in 13 probands with a BRCA1/2 unclassified variant, 7 with a pathogenic mutation, 5 with an uninformative result, and in 44, 14, and 12 of their 1st and 2nd degree relatives respectively. We examined differences and correlations between: (a) information actually communicated (b) probands' perception, (c) relatives' perception. The perception consisted of recollections and interpretations of both their own and their relatives' cancer-risks, and heredity-likelihood (i.e. likelihood that cancer is heritable in the family). Differences and low correlations suggested few similarities between the actually communicated information, the probands' and the relatives' perception. More specifically, probands recalled the communicated information differently compared with the actually communicated information (R = .40), and reinterpreted this information differently (R = .30). The relatives' perception was best correlated with the proband's interpretation (R = .08), but this perception differed significantly from their proband's perception. Finally, relatives reinterpreted the information they received from their proband differently (R = .25), and this interpretation was only slightly related with the original message communicated by the genetic-counsellor (R = .15). Unclassified-variants were most frequently misinterpreted by probands and relatives, and had the largest differences between probands' and relatives' perceptions. Like in a children's whisper-game, many errors occur in the transmission of DNA-test result information in families. More attention is required for how probands disseminate information to relatives. Genetic-counsellors may help by supporting the probands in communicating to relatives, e.g. by providing clear summary letters for relatives.

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Keywords BRCA1 protein, BRCA1/2, BRCA2 protein, DNA screening, Familytherapy, Genetic-counselling, Oncology, Psychology, Risk-perception, article, cancer risk, family health, genetic counseling, human, perception, priority journal, relative
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10689-010-9385-y, hdl.handle.net/1765/23140
Citation
Vos, J, Menko, F, Jansen, A.M, van Asperen, C.J, Stiggelbout, A.M, & Tibben, A. (2011). A whisper-game perspective on the family communication of DNA-test results: A retrospective study on the communication process of BRCA1/2-test results between proband and relatives. Familial Cancer, 10(1), 87–96. doi:10.1007/s10689-010-9385-y