Psychological Medicine

Original Articles

Community interest in predictive genetic testing for susceptibility to major depressive disorder in a large national sample

A. Wildea1a2 c1, B. Meisera3, P. B. Mitchella1a2a4, D. Hadzi-Pavlovica1a2 and P. R. Schofielda4a5a6

a1 School of Psychiatry, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia

a2 Black Dog Institute, Sydney, Australia

a3 Prince of Wales Clinical School, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia

a4 Brain Sciences UNSW, Sydney, Australia

a5 Neuroscience Research Australia, Sydney, Australia

a6 School of Medical Sciences, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia

Abstract

Background Despite international concern about unregulated predictive genetic testing, there are surprisingly few data on both the determinants of community interest in such testing and its psychosocial impact.

Method A large population-based public survey with community-dwelling adults (n=1046) ascertained through random digit dialling. Attitudes were assessed by structured interviews.

Results The study found strong interest in predictive genetic testing for a reported susceptibility to depression. Once the benefits and disadvantages of such testing had been considered, there was significantly greater interest in seeking such a test through a doctor (63%) compared to direct-to-consumer (DTC; 40%) (p<0.001). Personal history of mental illness [odds ratio (OR) 2.58, p<0.001], self-estimation of being at higher than average risk for depression (OR 1.92, p<0.001), belief that a genetic component would increase rather than decrease stigma (OR 1.62, p<0.001), and endorsement of benefits of genetic testing (OR 3.47, p<0.001) significantly predicted interest in having such a test.

Conclusions Despite finding attitudes that genetic links to mental illness would increase rather than decrease stigma, we found strong community acceptance of depression risk genotyping, even though a predisposition to depression may only manifest upon exposure to stressful life events. Our results suggest that there will be a strong demand for predictive genetic testing.

(Received July 13 2010)

(Revised November 01 2010)

(Accepted November 06 2010)

(Online publication December 15 2010)

Correspondence

c1 Address for correspondence: Dr A. Wilde, School of Psychiatry, University of New South Wales, Black Dog Institute Building, Hospital Road, Randwick, NSW, Australia 2031. (Email: alex.wilde@unsw.edu.au)

Metrics