Psychiatric disorders in clinical genetics I: Addressing family histories of psychiatric illness

Holly L. Peay, Patricia Mc Carthy Veach, Christina G.S. Palmer, Beth Rosen-Sheidley, Elizabeth Gettig, Jehannine C. Austin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


This is the first article of a two-part professional development series addressing genetic counseling for personal and family histories of psychiatric disorders. It is based on an Educational Breakout Session presented by the Psychiatric Special Interest Group of the National Society of Genetic Counselors at the 2006 Annual Education Conference. This article examines issues that arise in addressing family histories of psychiatric illness, while the second article in the series considers the generation and provision of individualized recurrence risks for psychiatric disorders. In this article we discuss the importance of managing uncertainty for affected individuals and their close family members who have been referred to genetics for a number of different indications. We then use four simulated cases to make recommendations about the scope and timing of discussions related to the psychiatric family history.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6-17
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Genetic Counseling
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2008

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgements We would like to thank the members of the Psychiatric SIG, and all who attended the 2006 Educational Breakout Session from which this article was developed. HP is supported by the Intramural Research Program of the National Human Genome Research Institute, National Institutes of Health. JA is supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (NET-54013), the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research, and the BC Mental Health and Addictions Services.


  • Autism
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Genetic counseling
  • Mental illness
  • Psychiatric disorders
  • Schizophrenia
  • Uncertainty


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