As genomic sequencing expands into more areas of patient care, an increasing number of patients learn of the variants of uncertain significance (VUSs) that they carry. Understanding the potential psychosocial consequences of the disclosure of a VUS can help inform pre- and post-test counseling discussions. Medical uncertainty in general elicits a variety of responses from patients, particularly in the growing field of medical genetics and genomics. It is important to consider patients’ responses to the ambiguous nature of VUSs across different indications and situational contexts. Genetic counselors and other providers ordering genetic testing should be prepared for the possibility of their patients’ misinterpretation of such results. Pre-test counseling should include a discussion of the possibility of VUSs and what it would mean for the patient’s care and its potential psychosocial impacts. When a VUS is found, post-test counseling should include additional education and a discussion of the variant’s implications and medical management recommendations based on the results. These discussions may help temper subjective interpretations, unrealistic views, and decisional regret.
- Affective response
- Genetic counseling
- Qualitative research
- Variants of uncertain or unknown significance (VUS)
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health