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

  • A. Wilde (a1) (a2), B. Meiser (a3), P. B. Mitchell (a1) (a2) (a4), D. Hadzi-Pavlovic (a1) (a2) and P. R. Schofield (a4) (a5) (a6)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 15 December 2010

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.

Corresponding author
*Address for correspondence: Dr A. Wilde, School of Psychiatry, University of New South Wales, Black Dog Institute Building, Hospital Road, Randwick, NSW, Australia2031. (Email:
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