Risk perception after genetic counseling in patients with increased risk of cancerReport as inadecuate

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Hereditary Cancer in Clinical Practice

, 7:15

First Online: 23 August 2009Received: 14 January 2009Accepted: 23 August 2009


BackgroundCounselees are more aware of genetics and seek information, reassurance, screening and genetic testing. Risk counseling is a key component of genetic counseling process helping patients to achieve a realistic view for their own personal risk and therefore adapt to the medical, psychological and familial implications of disease and to encourage the patient to make informed choices 1, 2.

The aim of this study was to conceptualize risk perception and anxiety about cancer in individuals attending to genetic counseling.

MethodsThe questionnaire study measured risk perception and anxiety about cancer at three time points: before and one week after initial genetic counseling and one year after completed genetic investigations. Eligibility criteria were designed to include only index patients without a previous genetic consultation in the family. A total of 215 individuals were included. Data was collected during three years period.

ResultsBefore genetic counseling all of the unaffected participants subjectively estimated their risk as higher than their objective risk. Participants with a similar risk as the population overestimated their risk most. All risk groups estimated the risk for children-s-siblings to be lower than their own. The benefits of preventive surveillance program were well understood among unaffected participants.

The difference in subjective risk perception before and directly after genetic counseling was statistically significantly lower in all risk groups. Difference in risk perception for children as well as for population was also statistically significant. Experienced anxiety about developing cancer in the unaffected subjects was lower after genetic counseling compared to baseline in all groups. Anxiety about cancer had clear correlation to perceived risk of cancer before and one year after genetic investigations.

The affected participants overestimated their children-s risk as well as risk for anyone in population. Difference in risk perception for children-siblings as for the general population was significant between the first and second measurement time points. Anxiety about developing cancer again among affected participants continued to be high throughout this investigation.

ConclusionThe participant-s accuracy in risk perception was poor, especially in low risk individuals before genetic counseling. There was a general trend towards more accurate estimation in all risk groups after genetic counseling. The importance of preventive programs was well understood. Cancer anxiety was prevalent and associated with risk perception, but decreased after genetic counseling.

1 National Society of Genetic Counselors 2005, Genetic Counseling as a Profession. Available at http:-www.nsgc.org-about-definition.cfm accessed November 25th 2007

2 Julian-Reynier C., Welkenhuysen M-, Hagoel L., Decruyenaere M., Hopwood P. 2003 Risk communication strategies: state of the art and effectiveness in the context of cancer genetic services. Eur J of Human Genetics 11, 725-736.

Electronic supplementary materialThe online version of this article doi:10.1186-1897-4287-7-15 contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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Author: Johanna Rantala - Ulla Platten - Gunilla Lindgren - Bo Nilsson - Brita Arver - Annika Lindblom - Yvonne Brandberg

Source: https://link.springer.com/

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