Posttraumatic stress associated with cancer history and BRCA1/2 genetic testing

Heidi A. Hamann, Tamara J. Somers, Ashley W. Smith, Sabra S. Inslicht, Andrew Baum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

21 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objective: A subset of women who are at elevated cancer risk due to family history exhibit evidence of cancer-specific distress. These stress responses may represent symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The present study assessed rates of PTSD related to personal or family cancer history and BRCA1/2 testing. Methods: Participants were 84 women enrolled in a larger project focused on genetic testing decisions. Semistructured diagnostic interviews were used to identify instances of threshold and subthreshold PTSD. Results: Results indicated that 16.7% of the women reported current threshold or subthreshold PTSD related to personal or family cancer history. An additional 26.2% reported past-only cancer-related threshold or subthreshold PTSD. Of the 65 women who received BRCA1/2 results and completed the test-related PTSD module, only 7.7% reported threshold or subthreshold PTSD related to the genetic testing process. However, when rates were examined based on carrier status, 25.0% of BRCA1/2 carriers reported test-related threshold or subthreshold PTSD compared with only 10.0% of variants and 2.3% of noncarriers. Conclusions: Results from this study suggest that both personal and family cancer diagnoses can be significant stressors for a subset of high-risk women. Rates of threshold and subthreshold PTSD related to genetic testing appear to be less common, although carriers may be at higher risk for significant posttraumatic symptoms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)766-772
Number of pages7
JournalPsychosomatic Medicine
Volume67
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2005

Keywords

  • BRCA1/2
  • Cancer
  • Genetic testing
  • Posttraumatic stress
  • Structured clinical interview

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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