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Early Interv Psychiatry. 2014 Jun 23. doi: 10.1111/eip.12164. [Epub ahead of print]

Attitudes towards cannabis use and genetic testing for schizophrenia.

Author information

  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Maryland Baltimore County, Baltimore, Maryland, USA.
  • 2Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University, New York, New York, USA.



Within schizophrenia, genetic factors contribute greatly to risk, yet genetic testing for the disorder is not available. For some individuals with specific genotypes, cannabis use may increase risk of schizophrenia. It is possible that genetic tests could be offered in the future to inform individuals of the risk of schizophrenia if they use cannabis. Previous research, however, provides little guidance on how young adults might respond to such tests.


We assessed a group of young adults (n = 83) to determine how the perceived magnitude of increased risk for schizophrenia in the presence of cannabis use influences decisions to undergo genetic testing, as well as subsequent attitudes and intentions towards cannabis use.


Participants were significantly more likely to indicate willingness to get tested if the results identified a 10% risk versus a 2% risk of schizophrenia. Participants also indicated that if the results of their test reflected increased risk due to cannabis use, it would be more important to avoid cannabis in the 10% risk scenario as compared to the 2% risk scenario. These findings remained consistent among a subset of participants who indicated cannabis use.


Results suggest that cannabis users and non-users were positively influenced in terms of intentions to change behaviour based on the magnitude of risk conveyed by genetic testing. These findings provide an initial step towards understanding young people's attitudes towards genetic testing and may help prepare interventions specifically tailored around cannabis use reduction for people at risk for schizophrenia.

© 2014 Wiley Publishing Asia Pty Ltd.


attitude; cannabis; genetic testing; schizophrenia

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[Available on 2015-12-23]
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