Individuals who undergo multiplex direct-to-consumer (DTC) genomic testing receive genetic risk results for multiple conditions. To date, research has not investigated the influence of individual differences in disease perceptions among consumers on testing outcomes. A total of 2037 participants received DTC genomic testing and completed baseline and follow-up surveys assessing disease perceptions and health behaviors. Participants were asked to indicate their most feared disease of those tested.
Perceived seriousness and controllability of the disease via lifestyle or medical intervention were assessed. Participants most frequently reported heart attack (19.1%) and Alzheimer’s disease (18.6%) as their most feared disease. Perceived seriousness and control over the feared disease both influenced response to DTC genomic testing.
Greater perceived seriousness and diminished perceived control were associated with higher, but not clinically significant levels of anxiety and distress. In some cases these associations were modified by genetic risk. No significant associations were observed for diet, exercise and screening behaviors. Individual differences in disease perceptions influence psychological outcomes following DTC genomic testing.
Higher perceived seriousness may make a consumer more psychologically sensitive to test results and greater perceived control may protect against adverse psychological outcomes. Findings may inform development of educational and counseling services.
Anxiety is a negative feeling that can affect our health negatively. Be optimistic and follow a healthy lifestyle.
Genetic test results should be only a record and not define our health outcome. We can be proactive, brave and vigilant in keeping our body at maximum health status at all times.
We know that we can turn ON and OFF these genes with the environment that promotes health and wellness. It is up to us not to turn on cancer genes with alcohol abuse, drug abuse, smoking, obesity (instead eat whole foods when hungry only) and lack of exercise.