This is a resubmission of Genetic Knowledge and Attitudes in Alzheimer's Disease (1 R01 HG0183), which addresses the ethical, legal, and social implications Alzheimer's disease (AD) genetics from the critical perspective of a group at high risk for the disease: currently unaffected relatives in families with AD. The applicants--at Mass General Hospital/Harvard Medical School and the University of Alabama--have been working together since 1990 as part of the NIMH Genetics Initiative to identify families with Alzheimer's disease for a genetic linkage study. Nearly 350 such families, predominantly affected sibling pairs and over 300 of their unaffected siblings, have been collected. Regular follow- up of unaffected subjects is in process in order to monitor them for disease onset and assess the role of risk factors for AD, and there are approximately 200 additional unaffected siblings in study families. In the present proposal, the two centers will study knowledge, attitudes, and behavior related to genetic studies and genetic testing in the unaffected individuals in these AD families and their primary care physicians, and will develop and pilot educational materials designed to address their needs for genetic information. Information about the ethical, legal, and social implications is just as critical as that about inheritance patterns and risk probabilities. We will employ a broad approach including qualitative as well as quantitative methods in order to capture the complexity, uncertainty, and subjectivity in this new realm. Given the growing prevalence, devastating symptoms, and prodigious social cost of AD, the recent flurry of developments in AD genetics has received extensive attention both from the popular press and from advertisers touting putative genetic tests. Those whose family history puts them at increased risk for AD are especially vulnerable to misinformation. Their primary care physicians are also ill-prepared to address these issues. The genetic educational materials for laypeople and physicians to be developed and tested in the present proposal strive to meet their current needs for accurate information, to prepare them for future challenges, and to supply models for genetic education in other complex diseases.
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