The present study examined the possible pathways of effect of genetic testing for relatively "low-risk" conditions by exploring positive as well as negative effects of anticipated test results on the intention to restrict salt intake. In a cross-sectional within-subjects design, patients being tested for genetic predispositions to salt sensitivity reported higher overall intentions to restrict their salt intake when anticipating positive test results, confirming the value of genetic testing for low-risk conditions. However, participants in the precontemplation and preparation stages of change reported lower intentions when anticipating negative test results. This result suggests that negative test results have a negative impact on the motivation to perform preventive behavior among those who have not yet considered, and those who are planning to perform, the preventive behavior. Although the results show that, overall, genetic testing for low-risk conditions has a positive impact on the motivation to engage in preventive behavior, one needs to be aware of the potential negative effect of receiving negative test results. Consequently, individuals receiving negative test results should be carefully counseled on the meaning of the results and the consequences for preventive behavior.
Smerecnik, C. M. R., Mesters, I., van Keulen, H., Scheffers, I. J. M., Beeks, E., de Leeuw, P. W., de Vries, N. K., & de Vries, H. (2007). Should Individuals Be Informed about Their Salt Sensitivity Status? First Indications of the Value of Testing for Genetic Predisposition to Low-Risk Conditions. Genetic Testing, 11(3), 307-314. https://doi.org/10.1089/gte.2007.0008