A growing number of genetic tests are included in diagnostic protocols associated with many common conditions. A positive diagnosis associated with the presence of some gene versions in many instances predicts a range of possible outcomes, and the uncertainty linked to such results contributes to the need to understand varied responses and plan strategic communication. Uncertainty in illness theory (UIT; Mishel, 1988, 1990) guided the investigation of efforts to feel in control and hopeful regarding genetic testing and diagnosis for alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency (AATD). Participants included 137 individuals with AATD recruited from the Alpha-1 Research Registry who were surveyed about their subjective numeracy, anxiety about math, spirituality, perceptions of illness unpredictability, negative affect regarding genetic testing, and coping strategies about a diagnosis. Results revealed that experiencing more fear and worry contributed both directly and indirectly to affect-management coping strategies, operating through individual perceptions of illness unpredictability. The inability to predict the symptoms and course of events related to a genetic illness and anxiety regarding math heightened fear and worry. Spirituality lessened both illness unpredictability and negative affective responses to a diagnosis. Results affirm the importance of clinician and counselor efforts to incorporate attention to patient spirituality. They also illustrate the complexity associated with strategic efforts to plan communication about the different versions of a gene’s effects on well-being, when some versions align with mild health effects and others with severe effects.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Health(social science)