Information regarding one's genetic risk for a particular disease might effectively inform medical, financial, and reproductive decisions and perhaps promote established risk reduction behaviors. However, genetic testing may also lead to significant levels of anxiety, depression, or other forms of distress, especially when psychological coping strategies and social reserves are not adequate to manage positive or inconclusive results. This paper focuses on the psychological impact of predisposition genetic testing for Alzheimer disease (AD). We present stress and coping models that capture the essence of this impact and discuss the potential role of counseling and follow-up interventions. The discussion draws primarily from the experiences of professionals working with other diseases, and seeks to expand that experience into the AD arena. In addition, we emphasize two issues we believe need additional attention in the psychological literature regarding genetic testing and counseling: (i) the psychosocial vulnerability of individuals being tested and, (ii) the sociocultural context of the AD patient and their family members.
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