Masters Thesis

Experiences of individuals receiving "not parent expected" results through direct-to-consumer genetic testing

As direct-to-consumer genetic testing (DTC-GT) grows in popularity, the unanticipated “Not Parent Expected” (NPE) result has become more prevalent than ever before. An NPE result is the discovery that one parent, often the father, is not a biological parent. This study is the first to systematically analyze the impact of receiving NPE results through genetic testing outside of a clinical setting. The exploration of individuals’ experiences receiving NPE results serves to inform professionals working with this population of the psychological and emotional impacts on both the individual and their families in order to provide better care and support to this growing population. Semi-structured interviews provided the data for this study. A grounded theory approach was used to explore and identify the common themes of 25 individuals’ experiences receiving NPE results through DTC-GT. Many individuals had a prior inkling that their parent was not their biological parent. Still, NPE results had a strong impact on identity and experiences of grief and loss were numerous. Relationships with the biological parent who raised these individuals tended to be strained before the NPE discovery, often becoming negatively impacted after NPE results were revealed. Connection to newly identified birth parents and family was a common goal for many participants, though the outcomes were not always positive. Individuals brought up valuable critiques of the experiences they had with the DTC-GT company they utilized, including the need for more explicit informed consent and accurate advertising. Further research will assist in deepening understanding and confirming the findings of this novel study.

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