Investigating married adults’ communal coping with genetic health risk and perceived discrimination

Rachel A. Smith, Alan Sillars, Ryan P. Chesnut, Xun Zhu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Increased genetic testing in personalized medicine presents unique challenges for couples, including managing disease risk and potential discrimination a. couple. This study investigated couples’ conflicts and support gaps as they coped with perceived genetic discrimination. We also explored the degree to which communal coping was beneficial in reducing support gaps and ultimately stress. Dyadic analysis of married adults (. 266, 133 couples), in which one person had the genetic risk for serious illness, showed that perceived discrimination predicted more frequent conflicts about alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency-related treatment, privacy boundaries, and finances, which, in turn, predicted wider gaps in emotion and esteem support, and greater stress for both spouses. Communal coping predicted lower support gaps for both partners and marginally lower stress.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)181-202
Number of pages22
JournalCommunication Monographs
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 3 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Human Genome Research Institute of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R21HG007111 and by the National Institute on Drug Abuse under Award Number P50-DA010075-16. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 National Communication Association.


  • communal coping
  • Conflict
  • discrimination
  • genetics
  • personalized medicine
  • social support

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics


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