A tailored approach to informing relatives at risk of inherited cardiac conditions: results of a randomised controlled trial

Lieke M. van den Heuvel, Yvonne M. Hoedemaekers, Annette F. Baas, Marieke J. H. Baars, J. Peter van Tintelen, Ellen M. A. Smets, Imke Christiaans*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    7 Citations (Scopus)
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    If undetected, inherited cardiac conditions can lead to sudden cardiac death, while treatment options are available. Predictive DNA testing is therefore advised for at-risk relatives, and probands are currently asked to inform relatives about this. However, fewer than half of relatives attend genetic counselling. In this trial, we compared a tailored approach to informing relatives, in which probands were asked whether they preferred relatives to be informed by themselves or by the genetic counsellor, with current practice. Our primary outcome was uptake of genetic counselling in relatives in the first year after test result disclosure. Secondary outcomes were evaluation of the approach and impact on psychological/family functioning measured 3 (T1) and 9 (T2) months post-disclosure via telephone interviews and questionnaires. We included 96 probands; 482 relatives were eligible for counselling and genetic testing. We observed no significant difference in uptake of genetic counselling between the control (38%) and the intervention (37%) group (p = 0.973). Nor were there significant differences between groups in impact on family/psychological functioning. Significantly more probands in the tailored group were satisfied (p = 0.001) and felt supported (p = 0.003) by the approach, although they also felt somewhat coerced to inform relatives (p < 0.001) and perceived room for improvement (p < 0.001). To conclude, we observed no differences in uptake and impact on family/psychological functioning between the current and tailored approach, but probands in the tailored group more often felt satisfied. Further research on barriers to relatives attending genetic counselling and on how to optimize the provision of a tailored approach is needed.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)203-210
    Number of pages8
    JournalEuropean Journal of Human Genetics
    Issue number2
    Early online date24-Nov-2021
    Publication statusPublished - Feb-2022


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