As exome and genome sequencing (ES/GS) enters the clinic, there is an urgent need to understand the psychological effects of test result disclosure. Through a Clinical Sequencing Exploratory Research (CSER), phase 1 (CSER1) Consortium collaboration, we evaluated participants' psychological outcomes across multiple clinical settings.
We conducted a random effects meta-analysis of state anxiety (Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale [HADS]/Generalized Anxiety Disorder 7-item), depressive symptoms (HADS/Personal Health Questionnaire 9-item), and multidimensional impact (i.e., test-related distress, uncertainty and positive impact: modified Multidimensional Impact of Cancer Risk Assessment/Feelings About Genomic Testing Results scale).
Anxiety and depression did not increase significantly following test result disclosure. Meta-analyses examining mean differences from pre- to postdisclosure revealed an overall trend for a decrease in participants' anxiety. We observed low levels of test-related distress and perceptions of uncertainty in some populations (e.g., pediatric patients) and a wide range of positive responses.
Our findings across multiple clinical settings suggest no clinically significant psychological harms from the return of ES/GS results. Some populations may experience low levels of test-related distress or greater positive psychological effects. Future research should further investigate the reasons for test-related psychological response variation.