Examining family implications of genetic testing


When people learn about their disease risks through genetic testing, this information has the potential to impact their family members. Family members could share these genetic risks, and consequently could benefit from their own genetic risk assessment and testing, as well as from the adoption of preventive behaviors. Therefore, it is crucial that people effectively communicate their genetic test results to their at-risk family members, and that family members seek their own genetic testing (i.e., cascade testing). However, existing research confirms that communication and rates of cascade testing among families are frequently suboptimal. Our research investigates the experiences of family communication of genetic risk information, with the ultimate goals of developing and testing strategies to improve this process.

An example project is:

Project 1: Precision Medicine Decisions and Family Communication in Advanced Cancer

Dr. Hamilton is leading a large study to evaluate cancer patients’ decision-making and family communication about germline cancer risks revealed during the use of somatic testing (i.e., tumor genomic profiling). This project, which includes both quantitative and qualitative data collection with cancer patients and their family members, aims to clarify the family communication decisions, challenges, and needs of patients who are using this increasingly available genomic testing technology.

  • Hamilton JG, Shah IH, Salafia C, Schofield E, Genoff Garzon M, Cadet K, Stadler ZK, Hay JL, Offit K, Robson ME. Development of a novel measure of advanced cancer patients’ perceived utility of secondary germline findings from tumor genomic profiling. PEC Innovation. In press. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pecinn.2023.100124
  • Hamilton JG, Salafia C, Shah IH, Hay JL, Stadler ZK, Offit K, Robson ME. (2022, April). Family communication of secondary germline findings indicating inherited cancer risk that arise from tumor genomic profiling. Paper presented at the annual Society of Behavioral Medicine meeting, Baltimore, MD.Hamilton JG, Genoff Garzon M, Westerman JS, Cadet K, Hay JL, Offit K, Robson ME. (2018, April). Development of a novel measure of advanced cancer patients’ perceived utility of secondary germline findings. Podium presentation at the annual Society of Behavioral Medicine meeting, New Orleans, LA.