Matthew B. Rich, Carrie L. Blout Zawatsky, Joseph J. Botta, Kurt D. Christensen
Disease-modifying treatments for Alzheimer's disease are emerging. Our research examined how personal risk for AD may influence intentions to ask for medications to delay symptoms of AD, and how the availability of such medications impacts interest in AD-related genetic testing. Invitations to a web-based survey were posted on social media sites. Respondents were sequentially assigned to imagine that they had a 5%, 15%, or 35% chance of developing AD. They were then provided a hypothetical scenario describing a medication that delayed AD symptoms. After reporting intentions to ask for the medication, respondents were asked about their interest in genetic testing to predict AD risk. Data from 310 individuals were analyzed. Intentions to ask for a preventative medication were greater for respondents presented AD risks of 35% compared to risks of 15% and 5% (86% vs. 66% vs. 62%, respectively, p < 0.001). The proportion who would ask for genetic susceptibility testing increased from 58% to 79% when respondents were told to imagine that a medication that delayed AD symptoms existed (p < 0.001). Findings suggest that individuals who know they have an increased risk for AD are more likely pursue medications to delay onset of disease symptoms, and the availability of AD-delaying treatments will increase interest in associated genetic testing. Findings provide insight about who will pursue emerging preventative medications, including individuals for whom the medications may be inappropriate, and the impact on genetic test utilization.
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