Genetic diagnosis for rare diseases in the Dutch Caribbean: a qualitative study on the experiences and associated needs of parents

Eline A. Verberne, Lieke M. van den Heuvel, Maria Ponson-Wever, Maartje de Vroomen, Meindert E. Manshande, Sonja Faries, Ginette M. Ecury-Goossen, Lidewij Henneman, Mieke M. van Haelst*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Research on the perspectives of patients and parents regarding genetic testing and its implications has been performed mostly in Europe, Canada, the United States, Australia and New Zealand, even though genetic testing is becoming increasingly available worldwide. We aimed to fill this knowledge gap by exploring the experiences and needs of parents in the Dutch Caribbean who received a genetic diagnosis for the rare disease of their child. We conducted 23 semi-structured interviews with 30 parents of children diagnosed with various rare genetic diseases in Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao (ABC-islands). Two researchers independently analyzed the interviews using a thematic approach. Main themes identified were: (1) getting a genetic diagnosis, (2) coping, support and perceived social stigma, (3) living on a small island, and (4) needs regarding genetic services. Our results indicate that, despite reported limitations regarding the availability of healthcare and support services, receiving a genetic diagnosis for their child was valuable for most participants. While some of the participants’ experiences with and attitudes towards the genetic diagnosis of their child were similar to those reported in previous studies, we identified a number of aspects that are more specifically related to this Dutch Caribbean setting. These include coping through faith and religion, social stigma and being the only one on the island with a specific genetic disorder. The results of this study and the provided recommendations may be useful when developing genetic testing and counseling services in similar settings.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)587-594
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Journal of Human Genetics
Issue number5
Early online date28 Jan 2022
Publication statusPublished - May 2022

Cite this