Interpretation of melanoma risk feedback in first-degree relatives of melanoma patients
Attitude to Health
Little is known about how individuals might interpret brief genetic risk feedback. We examined interpretation and behavioral intentions (sun protection, skin screening) in melanoma first-degree relatives (FDRs) after exposure to brief prototypic melanoma risk feedback. Using a 3 by 2 experimental pre-post design where feedback type (high-risk mutation, gene environment, and nongenetic) and risk level (positive versus negative findings) were systematically varied, 139 melanoma FDRs were randomized to receive one of the six scenarios. All scenarios included an explicit reminder that melanoma family history increased their risk regardless of their feedback. The findings indicate main effects by risk level but not feedback type; positive findings led to heightened anticipated melanoma risk perceptions and anticipated behavioral intentions. Yet those who received negative findings often discounted their family melanoma history. As such, 25%, 30%, and 32% of those who received negative mutation, gene-environment, and nongenetic feedback, respectively, reported that their risk was similar to the general population. Given the frequency with which those who pursue genetic testing may receive negative feedback, attention is needed to identify ideal strategies to present negative genetic findings in contexts such as direct to consumer channels where extensive genetic counseling is not required.