Uncertainty Management and Communication Preferences Related to Genetic Relativism Among Families Affected by Down Syndrome, Marfan Syndrome, and Neurofibromatosis
Available online: 14 Dec 2011
Genes hold opportunities for us to look backward and forward in family health and disease incidence. Our beliefs about genes' roles in health form around frameworks relating to personal control, and the influence of social networks and/or religious faith on genetic expression in health. These genetic relativistic frameworks were found to predict levels of illness uncertainty among 541 diagnosed adults and family members affected by neurofibromatosis, Down syndrome, and Marfan syndrome. Participants were recruited and surveyed about their expectations and preferences for communicating about their respective disorder, with illness uncertainty found to predict the desire to communicate about the condition and to manage related uncertainty. The desire to manage uncertainty in ways that foster control and hope partially mediated the relationship between illness uncertainty and communication preferences. Negative feelings about the condition, which were stronger for affected participants than for family members, related to illness uncertainty, the desire to manage uncertainty, and communication preferences, mediating the relationship between illness uncertainty and uncertainty management. Findings contribute to research in illness uncertainty management and have pragmatic implications for the design of counseling and educational materials associated with the genetic conditions considered in this research.