Opening Up the Conversation on Genetics and Genomics in Families: The Space for Communication Scholars
Advances in genetics and genomics research allow increasing numbers of family members to learn of their susceptibilities for inheriting genetic diseases. A family member diagnosed with a genetic disease is expected to notify other family members who may be at risk; these individuals confront the ongoing dilemmas of how to discuss familial genetic health. The complexities of family communication dynamics surrounding genetic health-related issues raise key challenges for many family members. Although communication-related research literature exists in genetic counseling, communication studies, and other social sciences, little scholarship integrates these fi ndings. This chapter provides an interdisciplinary review of the available literature pertaining to the ways in which family members disclose and discuss genetic test results among family members; it discusses implications of genetic knowledge within the family and identifi es areas of future related research. The authors call for increasing contributions from interpersonal, family, and health communication scholars to address the needs of families that are managing genetic health issues.