Date of Award

2018

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Department

Genetic Counseling

Sub-Department

School of Medicine

First Advisor

Janice Edwards

Abstract

The integration of spirituality into medical care is a growing area of debate among professionals, involving a delicate balance between serving patients who may benefit from this without alienating those who would not. To date, little research has targeted spirituality in cancer genetic counseling, particularly concerning the various methods a genetic counselor can use to address spirituality with their patients. A paper questionnaire was created and distributed to patients following their cancer genetic counseling appointments to gain insight on their perception of these methods. Fifty-two participants completed this questionnaire. The eight different spiritual integration methods presented each showed positive responses by the participant group on average, though opinions varied between participants. The method with the highest approval involved a genetic counselor informing patients that spirituality was a welcome topic of discussion during their appointment. Overall, 78.9% viewed this as a positive action by the counselor, while 11.5% viewed this negatively. Higher participant approval was typically seen for more indirect methods of addressing spirituality, and some methods were more beneficial for Christians compared to Non-Christians. Interestingly, 48.1% of patients indicated that they did not desire the genetic counselor to address their spiritual needs, with only 23% responding that they did. The fact that this item was presented before the potential methods may indicate a misconception that spirituality and genetics are incompatible. This study highlights the many opportunities for further research into this topic

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