Interest levels were high for predictive testing for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) among first-degree relatives (FDRs) of patients, according to study results published in Rheumatology.

Patients and their FDRs completed questionnaires provided by health care professionals. The surveys completed by the FDRs assessed the interest in taking a predictive test, demographic variables, perceived RA risk, attitudes about predictive testing, autonomy preferences, illness perceptions, avoidance coping and health anxiety. The patient surveys included demographic variables, disease impact, RA duration and treatment.

Associations between FDRs’ characteristics and their interest in predictive testing as well as between patient characteristics and FDRs’ interest in predictive testing were examined.

Interest in predictive testing (primary outcome measure) was assessed using 1 item – “If, in the next 6 months your doctor offered you a test that predicted your risk of developing [RA], would you take the test?” – and the responses were measures on a 4-point Likert scale.


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In total, 396 FDRs responded to the questionnaire; paired data from the RA proband were available for 292. Overall, 91.3% of FDRs were interested in predictive testing. Increased interest in testing was associated with information-seeking preferences, beliefs that predictive testing can increase empowerment over health and positive attitudes about risk knowledge. Decreased interest was associated with the belief that predictive testing might cause psychologic harm.

There were no associations between patient characteristics and interest for predictive testing among FDRs.

Study limitations included potential selection bias; the lack of objective measures of patients’ disease activity; participants were linked to a single family member diagnosed with RA but may have had experience with other more severely ill relatives; and women of British ancestry were overrepresented in the sample. 

Researchers included, “These findings will inform development of effective predictive strategies and information to support decision-making in individuals considering predictive tests for RA or taking part in prospective and preventive research.”

Reference

Wells I, Zemedikun DT, Simons G, et al. Predictors of interest in predictive testing for rheumatoid arthritis amongst first degree relatives of rheumatoid arthritis patients. Rheumatology. Published online November 30, 2021. doi:10.1093/rheumatology/keab890

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