Disclosure of Positive BRCA1/2-Mutation Status in Young Couples: The Journey From Uncertainty to Bonding Through Partner Support

September 2008
Families, Systems & Health: The Journal of Collaborative Family ;Sep2008, Vol. 26 Issue 3, p296
Academic Journal
BRCA1/2-positive women who learn their mutation status early in the life-course face unique challenges related to navigating the tasks of young adulthood. Using qualitative methods and grounded theory, the authors analyzed in-depth interviews with 11 women aged 26 to 35 who learned their mutation status before marriage. Their narratives illustrate the complexity of relationship formation, and highlight the potential for relationship-bonding and intimacy-building in the course of sharing mutation information. Disclosing BRCA mutation status to dating partners is often preceded by feelings of fear and anxiety, yet many participants reported that doing so has positive effects on relationships. Partners' abilities to respond with interest, empathy, and affection are associated with increased future intimacy, consistent with generally accepted principles within the family/couple systems field. Individual cancer risk perception and familial cancer experiences may affect the disclosure experience, which can be understood via Attachment Theory. Our findings provide clinical insight, identify new areas for research, and suggest ways to assist this unique population in their adjustment to being BRCA mutation-positive.


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