Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis


Genetic Counseling

First Advisor

Victoria Vincent


Introduction: Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is highly heritable, yet there has been no investigation regarding the possible benefits of genetic counseling for AUD. This study assessed the beliefs individuals with and at risk for AUD have regarding recurrence risk and etiology of AUD, how the presence of the condition in themselves or their family history has affected their lifestyle decisions, and potential benefit from AUD genetic counseling. Methods: An online questionnaire was distributed through social media to support groups for AUD inviting adults 18 years and older with a personal or family history of AUD. Results: Of the 122 individuals who completed the online questionnaire, 60% of participants perceived a potential benefit of AUD genetic counseling. Participants reported a wide range of estimated recurrence risks for first-degree relatives (5% to 100% for a child; 0% to 80% for a sibling). The most common recurrence risk estimate was 50%. Respondents expressed the most concern for their children developing AUD. Concern level did not influence their perceived benefit of AUD genetic counseling, yet those who felt genetics to be an important cause of AUD were more likely to perceive a benefit from AUD genetic counseling (ρ = .19, df = 120, p = .019). Participants reported many areas of their lives to be affected by AUD. In general participants recognized the multifactorial nature of AUD but seemed to lack a clear understanding of recurrence risk. Discussion:Based on the responses of the participants in the current study, genetic counseling could be beneficial to those with or at risk for AUD. Genetic counseling for this patient population could help clarify recurrence risk misconceptions and facilitate a clearer understanding of the environmental and biological factors that influence the development of AU. Further studies are warranted to evaluate the outcomes of AUD genetic counseling with respect to patient understanding, lifestyle modifications and psychological adaptation. Genetic counselors should be encouraged to reach out to this population.


© 2016, Fayth Michelle Kalb

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