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Keywords:

  • cancer worry;
  • CES-D;
  • family relationships;
  • genetic testing;
  • hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer;
  • Lynch syndrome;
  • social environment

The associations between characteristics of family relationships and family trends in cancer worry and the psychological adjustment of recipients of genetic testing for cancer susceptibility were investigated. Data provided by 178 individuals from 24 families with Lynch syndrome who participated in a cohort study investigating psychological and behavioral outcomes of genetic testing were used. Responses from multiple family members were aggregated to construct family trends representing norms and departure from norms in cancer worry. Lower perceived family cohesion at baseline and decrease in this variable at 6 months after receipt of test results were associated with higher depression scores at 12 months. More variability in cancer worry among family members at baseline was also associated with higher depression scores at 12 months. Increase in family conflict was associated with decrease in depression scores among individuals from families with higher levels of cancer worry on average and less variability among the members. Family relationships and family trends in levels of cancer worry may play important roles in the psychological adjustment of genetic test recipients. The findings highlight the complexity of familial environment surrounding individuals that undergo genetic testing and suggest the benefits of considering these factors when providing genetic services.