Objective: The purpose of this pilot study was to gain information about attitudes of individuals with bipolar disorder and their spouses toward some of the ethical and social issues arising from rapidly advancing genetic research on bipolar disorder. Method: Patients with bipolar disorder and their unaffected spouses were asked to answer questionnaires assessing their knowledge and attitudes about treatment response rates for bipolar disorder, probability of inheritance, genetic testing, disclosure of genetic information, abortion, marriage, and childbearing. Results: The overwhelming majority of the patients and spouses said that they would take advantage of genetic tests for bipolar disorder if such tests were to become available. Most patients and spouses agreed that the benefits of knowing whether one carries a gene for bipolar disorder would outweigh the risks. The decisive majority of respondents also felt that they would not abort a fetus that carried a gene for bipolar disorder. Furthermore, most patients and spouses agreed that the knowledge that one of them carried a gene for bipolar disorder would not have deterred them from marriage or childbearing. Conclusions: The results of this study suggest that most individuals believe that they would benefit from the use of genetic testing for bipolar disorder if it were to become available. Follow-up studies using a broader patient sample and nonclinical control groups would be useful in further evaluating the issues addressed in this pilot study.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Psychiatry and Mental health