Counseling — before, during, and after genetic risk disclosure

We counsel.

When patients get genetic risk factor information related to serious diseases, such as Alzheimer’s or coronary heart disease, they often have questions and need an opportunity for physician counseling and support.  We provide time to address your concerns.

Informed consent matters.

Before proceding, we ask you to consider these questions:

  • How might you react over the short term and long term?
  • What would you do differently with life plans should you discover you’re carrying increased genetic risk?
  • Will results make your quality of life better or worse?
  • How will the results impact your partner or family?
  • Have you considered long term care or life insurance?
  • What does your support person think?

Genetic testing certainly has benefits.

Potential benefits include the following:

  • Insight that may incentivize you to become more proactive about reducing health risks
  • An early diagnosis that might provide for effective preventive interventions
  • Relief from uncertainty
  • Personalized care
  • Improved planning for the future
  • Enhanced present moment appreciation

But there are risks to consider.

Potential risks include the following:

  • Emotional distress related to learning how one might die
  • Information overload
  • Preventive recommendations that might exceed your capacity for transformation (physical limitations, pessimism, attachment to habitual behaviors)
  • A risk of overstating or understating severity of a potential disease
  • The complexity of sharing significant results with family members
  • Discrimination by life insurance, disability insurance, or long-term care insurance companies

Genetic risk screening raises questions.

  • What does it mean that I’m at twice the risk for macular degeneration?
  • Is this something I really need to reorient my life around?
  • Is my risk just a little bit bigger than the risk that other people face?
  • If I’m going to face Alzheimer’s disease, is there anything that can be done?
  • What do my results mean for my relatives?
  • What does genetic testing mean for my chances of getting life insurance?

We’ll be there to answer all your questions, before, during, and after your genetic risk disclosure.