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Attitudes of neurologists, psychiatrists, and psychotherapists towards predictive testing for Huntington's disease in Germany.
  1. U Thies,
  2. B Bockel,
  3. V Bochdalofsky
  1. Institute of Human Genetics, University of Göttingen, Germany.


    Predictive testing for Huntington's disease (HD) in Germany is performed by genetic counsellors, neurologists, psychiatrists, and psychotherapists. In order to evaluate the attitudes of neurologists, psychiatrists, and psychotherapists in Germany towards predictive testing for HD, a postal questionnaire was sent to this group. Two German Bundesländer were chosen, Baden Württemberg (BW) and Niedersachsen (NS). Of 469 persons interviewed the response rate was 32.6%. The questionnaire consisted of 17 items assessing sociodemographic data, acquaintance with HD patients, lay organisations, attitudes towards genetic counselling, presymptomatic and prenatal DNA testing, and reproduction of persons at risk for HD. More than 70% of the subjects were well informed about predictive DNA testing but knowledge about the details of the test procedure, especially the World Federation of Neurology (WFN) and International Huntington Association (IHA)1 recommendations, was quite low (11.8%). Nevertheless, the majority would recommend predictive testing for HD although they anticipated problems for the probands. The majority of our respondents favoured psychological test and post-test counselling for those tested. Concerning reproduction, most subjects favoured prenatal testing or that persons at risk should refrain from having children. We found that the opinions of practitioners and at risk persons differed with respect to the predictive DNA test and, particularly, to prenatal testing. Therefore the testing procedure could be improved if practitioners were better informed about the DNA test in general and about the attitudes and wishes of their patients.

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