Genetic Testing Preferences of Individuals in Families with Essential Tremor
Background: The search for essential tremor (ET) genes is active, and it is only a matter of time before genetic tests become available. Genetic testing preferences in families have been studied in numerous other neurological disorders but there are no published data about ET.
Methods: We surveyed 34 ET probands and their relatives (43 affected, 28 unaffected) enrolled in our Family Study of Essential Tremor to assess their interest in genetic testing. We examined whether clinical factors influenced their interest in testing. Clinical utility (“Your physician will be able to use the information obtained to improve your care”) and penetrance (“How likely an individual who carries an ET gene is to develop ET”) were defined for participants.
Results: Interest in genetic testing was high in ET families (90/105 [85.7%]). There was a significant difference between affected (including probands and affected relatives) and unaffected relatives in terms of their interest in genetic testing, with the former being more interested (70/77 [90.9%] vs. 20/28 [71.4%] p = 0.04). Participants were more likely to want testing in the scenarios with high clinical utility; disease penetrance was not a determining factor (all p < 0.05). Sixteen hypothetical factors were identified that might influence a participant’s decision to undergo genetic testing for ET.
Discussion: Interest in genetic testing was high in ET families. While genetic testing is not currently available for ET, the hunt for ET genes is ongoing, and this is a highly familial disorder. Understanding genetic testing preferences will greatly aid clinicians once a genetic test becomes available.