Parents' and children's communication about genetic risk: a qualitative study, learning from families' experiences

METCALFE, Alison, PLUMRIDGE, Gill, COAD, Jane, SHANKS, Andrew and GILL, Paramjit (2011). Parents' and children's communication about genetic risk: a qualitative study, learning from families' experiences. European Journal of Human Genetics, 19 (6), 640-646.

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Official URL: http://www.nature.com/articles/ejhg2010258
Link to published version:: https://doi.org/10.1038/ejhg.2010.258

Abstract

Little is known about how parents explain to their children their risk of inheriting a gene that may cause disease in the child or in the child's future progeny. This study explored how genetic risk information is shared between family members and the factors affecting it, to ascertain the implications for children, young people and their parents to inform future service development and provision. A volunteer group of parents, children (8-11 years) and young people (12+ years) in families affected by or at risk of one of six inherited genetic conditions was interviewed. The semi-structured interviews explored the roles of family members, the language used and the self-reported psychological outcomes in a discussion on genetic risk information. The findings were analysed using grounded theory. A total of 33 families participated, which included 79 individuals. Parents often found discussing genetic risk information very difficult and emotionally painful. Discussions were not usually planned and often a major event prompted parents to finally explain genetic risks to their children; however, children usually preferred to learn about the genetic condition gradually throughout childhood. Parents identified a number of challenges they faced related to talking to children, and many thought health professionals should provide more advice to assist them in providing developmentally appropriate information. We therefore conclude that greater emphasis is required in supporting parents and children in discussing genetic risk information throughout their child's development. Open communication about genetic risks throughout childhood seemed to help children and parents cope better and come to terms with the implications of the genetic condition. European Journal of Human Genetics (2011) 19, 640-646; doi:10.1038/ejhg.2010.258; published online 16 February 2011Little is known about how parents explain to their children their risk of inheriting a gene that may cause disease in the child or in the child's future progeny. This study explored how genetic risk information is shared between family members and the factors affecting it, to ascertain the implications for children, young people and their parents to inform future service development and provision. A volunteer group of parents, children (8-11 years) and young people (12+ years) in families affected by or at risk of one of six inherited genetic conditions was interviewed. The semi-structured interviews explored the roles of family members, the language used and the self-reported psychological outcomes in a discussion on genetic risk information. The findings were analysed using grounded theory. A total of 33 families participated, which included 79 individuals. Parents often found discussing genetic risk information very difficult and emotionally painful. Discussions were not usually planned and often a major event prompted parents to finally explain genetic risks to their children; however, children usually preferred to learn about the genetic condition gradually throughout childhood. Parents identified a number of challenges they faced related to talking to children, and many thought health professionals should provide more advice to assist them in providing developmentally appropriate information. We therefore conclude that greater emphasis is required in supporting parents and children in discussing genetic risk information throughout their child's development. Open communication about genetic risks throughout childhood seemed to help children and parents cope better and come to terms with the implications of the genetic condition.

Item Type: Article
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Centre for Health and Social Care Research
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.1038/ejhg.2010.258
Page Range: 640-646
Depositing User: Justine Gavin
Date Deposited: 18 Jul 2018 09:14
Last Modified: 01 Oct 2018 16:15
URI: http://shura.shu.ac.uk/id/eprint/22012

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