Support Seeking or Familial Obligation: An Investigation of Motives for Disclosing Genetic Test Results

Marisa Greenberg, Rachel A. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Genetic test results reveal not only personal information about a person’s likelihood of certain medical conditions but also information about the person’s genetic relatives. Given the familial nature of genetic information, one’s obligation to protect family members may be a motive for disclosing genetic test results, but this claim has not been methodically tested. Existing models of disclosure decision making presume self-interested motives, such as seeking social support, instead of other-interested motives, like familial obligation. This study investigated young adults’ (N = 173) motives to share a genetic-based health condition, alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, after reading a hypothetical vignette. Results show that social support and familial obligation were both reported as motives for disclosure. In fact, some participants reported familial obligation as their primary motivator for disclosure. Finally, stronger familial obligation predicted increased likelihood of disclosing hypothetical genetic test results. Implications of these results were discussed in reference to theories of disclosure decision-making models and the practice of genetic disclosures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)668-678
Number of pages11
JournalHealth Communication
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Communication


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