Date of Award

Spring 2019

Document Type

Open Access Thesis


Genetic Counseling

First Advisor

Whitney Dobek


Patients at risk for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer (HBOC) traditionally participate in individual cancer genetic counseling sessions to be educated about cancer genetics concepts, their personal cancer risks and genetic testing. With expanding technology and increased public awareness of HBOC, referrals to cancer genetic counseling services have grown. The current number of practicing genetic counselors struggles to meet the demands of increased referrals, so new service delivery models need to be explored. The purpose of this study is to assess the utility of group genetic counseling for HBOC by evaluating the perspectives of patients that received group genetic counseling versus perspectives of those that received individual genetic counseling. We aimed to determine patient satisfaction and comfort level while also assessing the time efficiency and patient receptiveness to group sessions. Sixty-eight individuals with a new diagnosis of breast cancer participated, were randomly assigned to group genetic counseling (n=30) or individual genetic counseling (n=38) and gave perspectives on their genetic counseling session. Results demonstrate that each study cohort reported high satisfaction with their genetic counseling session. Participants in the group genetic counseling cohort were less likely to be overwhelmed by information given in their appointments (p=0.01). Comfort levels were similar between the two study groups and a majority of participants reported high comfort levels after their appointment. A majority of participants in the individual genetic counseling stated that they would not be willing to participate in group genetic counseling had they been given v the choice and cited privacy and comfort as the main reasoning. Additionally, our study found that group genetic counseling led to a significant savings in genetic counselor time (p=0.0008). This study demonstrates that group genetic counseling shows promise by reducing the genetic counselor time per patient, which allows for the ability to see more patients, while providing similar satisfaction and benefits to patients as individual genetic counseling models.


© 2019, Alyssa M. Gates