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Fam Cancer. 2010 Sep;9(3):469-77. doi: 10.1007/s10689-010-9324-y.

"I have always believed I was at high risk..." The role of expectation in emotional responses to the receipt of an average, moderate or high cancer genetic risk assessment result: a thematic analysis of free-text questionnaire comments.

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Institute of Medical Genetics, School of Medicine, Cardiff University, Heath Park, Cardiff, CF14 4XN, Wales, UK.


It is well-recognised that receipt of cancer genetic risk information can evoke a mix of both positive and negative emotional responses. Objective risk itself is not necessarily predictive of emotional response to receipt of risk information and the Cue Adaptive Reasoning Account (CARA; Renner, 2004) suggests that that the degree to which level of risk is consistent with expectations may influence emotional responses. This paper reports a thematic analysis of the free-text data structured around responses to the three risk labels: average, moderate or high. Data is reported from both 123 women and 15 men, including those with a past or current cancer diagnosis. Reactions to risk information appear to be dependent upon participants' pre-conceived expectations about their level of cancer risk. Many average risk respondents questioned the accuracy of their result, whereas high risk information was often expected. Findings are discussed in relation to the CARA model and clinical implications.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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