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Study Explores Animated Digital Message Approach to Communicate Genetic Test Results to Family Members

In the Journal of Genetic Counseling, Ohio State University researchers present findings from a "BRCAShare" study focused on the feasibility of using animated digital message (ADM) approaches to convey pathogenic variant results from hereditary breast and ovarian cancer (HBOC) syndrome test results — and prompt cascade genetic testing — in tricky-to-reach relatives. Based on questionnaire responses from 373 adults with no personal history of cancer, genetic testing, or genetic counseling who were paid $1 for participating, the team found that a two minute, health belief modeling-informed ADM approach that outlined hypothetical BRCA1/2 risk findings in a relative would theoretically prompt more than three-quarters of the study's participants to pursue their own genetic testing, if such cascade testing came with a price tag of $100 or less. Even more individuals said they would consult with a healthcare provider or a family member, the authors report, and most seemed to grasp the seriousness and potential benefits of HBOC test results. "This feasibility study in an unaffected population could mimic the experience of distant/less-engaged relatives in HBOC families after receiving unexpected information about cascade genetic testing," the authors write. "Most participants demonstrated behavioral intention toward cascade testing, at a rate higher than literature would suggest is typical in high-risk families, indicating that a theory-supported, simple-to-use intervention may be useful in clinical practice."