Learning About Individual Genetics Alleviates Suffering for Patients with Schizophrenia

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Brain & Behavior Research Foundation NARSAD Grantee Anne S. Bassett, M.D., FRCPC, Professor of Psychiatry, University of Toronto and Canada Research Chair in Schizophrenia Genetics, expert on schizophrenia
Anne S. Bassett, M.D., FRCPC

A pilot study led by Brain & Behavior Research Foundation NARSAD Grantee Anne S. Bassett, M.D., FRCPC of the University of Toronto and colleagues, shows a positive response to genetic counseling for individuals with schizophrenia. Prior to the counseling, patients tended to overestimate the risk of familial recurrence of schizophrenia, expressed considerable concern related to this perceived risk, endorsed myths about schizophrenia etiology, and blamed themselves for their illness. Post-counseling, there was a significant improvement in understanding of the empiric recurrence risk, accompanied by a decrease in associated concern. There were also significant gains in subjective and objective knowledge and reductions in internalized stigma and self-blame. Satisfaction with genetic counseling, including endorsement of the need for such counseling (86.4%), was high.

The study was published Dec. 12, 2012 in Schizophrenia Bulletin. Dr. Bassett, Professor of Psychiatry, University of Toronto and Canada Research Chair in Schizophrenia Genetics and colleagues studied a group of 25 people with schizophrenia who had considerable concerns about the risk of the illness being “passed on” to the next generation of their family.

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Article comments

I give money to NARSAD and also have an adult daughter with bipolar disorder. The self-stigma, shame and sense of failure associated with brain illnesses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder can not be over-estimated. It's difficult enough dealing with the ignorance, stigma and the myths of mental illness found in our society at large. Thank you, Dr. Bassett, for this importance research. I can only hope that such information is incorporated into treatment strategies.

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