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Transitional Life Events in Patients With Friedreich's Ataxia: Implications for Genetic Counseling

This study has been completed.
Information provided by:
National Institutes of Health Clinical Center (CC) Identifier:
First received: March 7, 2003
Last updated: March 3, 2008
Last verified: January 2004

The purposes of this study are to learn about significant life changes for people with Friedreich's ataxia and about patients' experiences with health care providers. Friedreich's ataxia is a rare genetic disorder in which patients experience progressive muscle weakness and loss of coordination in the arms and legs. They may have other complications, such as vision and hearing impairment, dysarthria, scoliosis, diabetes, and heart disease. The study will explore the impact of this chronic progressive illness on transitional life events, such as career choice and marriage, and the role of family members and health care providers-particularly genetic counselors-in helping patients progress through these events.

Patients with Friedreich's ataxia who are 18 years of age or older may be eligible for this study. Those enrolled will participate in a 45- to 60-minute interview by phone or in person, in which they will be asked questions about important changes in their lives and their past experiences with health care providers. The interview will be audiotaped.

Friedreich Ataxia

Study Type: Observational
Official Title: Exploration of Transitional Life Events in Individuals With Friedreich's Ataxia: Implications for Genetic Counseling

Resource links provided by NLM:

Further study details as provided by National Institutes of Health Clinical Center (CC):

Estimated Enrollment: 40
Study Start Date: March 2003
Estimated Study Completion Date: January 2004
Detailed Description:

Human development across the lifespan is a process of continual change, adaptation and growth. Throughout this process, key transitional events, such as career choice and marriage, mark important points in time when an individual's life course is significantly altered. These transitional events may be instigated by age, historical or idiosyncratic factors. Of particular interest in the present study are patients' perceptions of transitional events brought about or altered by chronic illness and disability. Additionally, factors (i.e. social support, communication, family) that help facilitate progression through these events will be investigated. The actual or potential role of health care providers during transitional events will also be explored with a specific emphasis on genetic counseling. These themes will be examined through the administration of a one-time, semi-structured, in-person or telephone interview of patients with Friedreich's ataxia: a progressive, debilitating, neurodegenerative condition. The interviews will be approximately 45-60 minutes in length and will include open-ended questions to elicit qualitative data. Approximately 40 subjects will be recruited from Friedreich's ataxia support groups, a research organization and a clinical setting.

It is anticipated that data elicited from the study will lead to recommendations regarding the process and content of genetic counseling for individuals with Friedreich's ataxia. These considerations, coupled with qualitative data obtained from participants, may also have implications for the evolving role of the genetic counselor. Specifically, consideration of developmental counseling approaches, which emphasize key transitional events, may be particularly useful as genetic counselors become increasingly involved in subspecialties (i.e. cardiology, pediatrics, neurology) that provide continuing follow-up care to patients.


Ages Eligible for Study:   Child, Adult, Senior
Sexes Eligible for Study:   All
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   No


Any individual diagnosed with Friedreich's ataxia, 18 years of age or older, who speaks English and is either in attendance at the NAF conference, or who has access to a telephone.


Adolescents and children under the age of 18. Children and adolescents will be excluded due to the potiential for increased psychological and/or emotional.

  Contacts and Locations
Choosing to participate in a study is an important personal decision. Talk with your doctor and family members or friends about deciding to join a study. To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the Contacts provided below. For general information, see Learn About Clinical Studies.

Please refer to this study by its identifier: NCT00056186

United States, Maryland
National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI)
Bethesda, Maryland, United States, 20892
Sponsors and Collaborators
National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI)
  More Information

Publications: Identifier: NCT00056186     History of Changes
Other Study ID Numbers: 030118
Study First Received: March 7, 2003
Last Updated: March 3, 2008

Keywords provided by National Institutes of Health Clinical Center (CC):
Health Care Provider
Chronic Illness/Disability
Friedreich's Ataxia
Friedreich Ataxia

Additional relevant MeSH terms:
Cerebellar Ataxia
Friedreich Ataxia
Neurologic Manifestations
Nervous System Diseases
Signs and Symptoms
Cerebellar Diseases
Brain Diseases
Central Nervous System Diseases
Spinocerebellar Degenerations
Spinal Cord Diseases
Heredodegenerative Disorders, Nervous System
Neurodegenerative Diseases
Genetic Diseases, Inborn
Mitochondrial Diseases
Metabolic Diseases processed this record on April 27, 2017