Risk reduction and health promotion behaviors following genetic testing for adult-onset disorders

T. A. Beery
Janet K. Williams, University of Iowa


Although clinical genetic testing is available for over 1,000 inherited disorders, consequences of predictive genetic testing have been most extensively examined for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer (HBOC), hereditary colon cancer, and Huntington disease (HD). These focus primarily on psychological, ethical, legal, and social aspects of genetic testing. Genetic testing may also provide information that can lead to behaviors that promote health and reduce risk for disease, reflecting options available for the disorder for which the person is at risk. However, regardless of condition, people completing a genetic test may inform relatives about the results of the test and implications for their risk to develop the condition. Literature on risk reduction behaviors and communication focuses on families with HBOC or colorectal cancer. Few reports document behaviors for other conditions. This paper presents a systematic review of the research literature on risk reduction and health promotion behaviors following clinical genetic testing for adult onset conditions, primarily HBOC, familial colon cancers, and HD. Insights gleaned from this review are discussed as a basis for planning monitoring of health promotion and risk-reduction behaviors for genetic testing for present and future use.