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Community interest in predictive genetic testing for susceptibility to major depressive disorder in a large national sample

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 December 2010

A. Wilde*
School of Psychiatry, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia Black Dog Institute, Sydney, Australia
B. Meiser
Prince of Wales Clinical School, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
P. B. Mitchell
School of Psychiatry, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia Black Dog Institute, Sydney, Australia Brain Sciences UNSW, Sydney, Australia
D. Hadzi-Pavlovic
School of Psychiatry, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia Black Dog Institute, Sydney, Australia
P. R. Schofield
Brain Sciences UNSW, Sydney, Australia Neuroscience Research Australia, Sydney, Australia School of Medical Sciences, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
*Address for correspondence: Dr A. Wilde, School of Psychiatry, University of New South Wales, Black Dog Institute Building, Hospital Road, Randwick, NSW, Australia2031. (Email:



Despite international concern about unregulated predictive genetic testing, there are surprisingly few data on both the determinants of community interest in such testing and its psychosocial impact.


A large population-based public survey with community-dwelling adults (n=1046) ascertained through random digit dialling. Attitudes were assessed by structured interviews.


The study found strong interest in predictive genetic testing for a reported susceptibility to depression. Once the benefits and disadvantages of such testing had been considered, there was significantly greater interest in seeking such a test through a doctor (63%) compared to direct-to-consumer (DTC; 40%) (p<0.001). Personal history of mental illness [odds ratio (OR) 2.58, p<0.001], self-estimation of being at higher than average risk for depression (OR 1.92, p<0.001), belief that a genetic component would increase rather than decrease stigma (OR 1.62, p<0.001), and endorsement of benefits of genetic testing (OR 3.47, p<0.001) significantly predicted interest in having such a test.


Despite finding attitudes that genetic links to mental illness would increase rather than decrease stigma, we found strong community acceptance of depression risk genotyping, even though a predisposition to depression may only manifest upon exposure to stressful life events. Our results suggest that there will be a strong demand for predictive genetic testing.

Original Articles
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2010

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