To assess the anxiety, emotions, thoughts, and coping behaviors of parents 1 week after they receive the results of screening of their infant's genetic risk of type 1 diabetes mellitus.
The population-based Type 1 Diabetes Prediction and Prevention project conducted in Turku.
Parents of 443 consecutive high-risk infants and 506 next-born low-risk infants.
An infant's genetic risk of type 1 diabetes mellitus was measured from cord blood. High-risk information was delivered by telephone and low-risk information by mail 4 weeks later.
Main Outcome Measures
Anxiety measured using the state anxiety scale of the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, and feelings, thoughts, and coping behaviors extracted from the questionnaire.
One week after obtaining the results, 67% of mothers and 63% of fathers of high-risk children and 58% of mothers and 54% of fathers of low-risk children had returned the questionnaire. Anxiety levels of parents of high-risk infants were similar to those of parents of low-risk infants (P = .86). More than 90% of the parents thought that it was good to know about the risk. Fifty-five percent of mothers and 37% of fathers of high-risk infants expressed modest worry. Increased anxiety was connected with other stressful life events, catastrophizing thoughts of diabetes mellitus risk, and emotion-focused or avoiding coping attitudes.
Learning about their infant's genetic diabetes mellitus risk induces only mild anxiety in most parents. Identifying the few parents with stronger anxiety helps focus intensified counseling.