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Am J Med Genet B Neuropsychiatr Genet. 2006 Dec 5;141B(8):926-8.

The genomic era and perceptions of psychotic disorders: genetic risk estimation, associations with reproductive decisions and views about predictive testing.

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Department of Psychiatry, Centre for Complex Disorders, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.


As a result of publicity surrounding genetic advances, increasing public awareness of a genetic role in major mental illness may be contributing to a "geneticization" of these illnesses. Geneticization could lead to oversimplified ideas about genetic risk, producing significant social consequences. We sought to investigate perceptions of genetic risk, associated effects on reproductive decisions and attitudes towards genetic testing amongst unaffected relatives of individuals with psychosis. A web-based survey design was used, which all visitors to a psychosis support/information website had the option to complete. Responders were representative of website visitors, and the study design facilitated collection of a large dataset, although the response rate was low. Over-estimating risk was associated with reproductive decisions favoring fewer children, and more positive attitudes towards genetic testing. Facilitating accurate risk perception through genetic counseling could significantly impact reproductive decisions, and the appropriate use of genetic tests in the future.

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