Development of a communication aid to facilitate risk communication in consultations with unaffected women from high risk breast cancer families: A pilot study

E. A. Lobb*, P. N. Butow, A. Moore, A. Barratt, K. Tucker, C. Gaff, J. Kirk, T. Dudding, D. Butt

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    25 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    The literature on risk perception in women from high-risk breast cancer families reveals persistent over-estimation of risk, even after counseling. In this study, a communication aid was designed to facilitate discussion of risk between clinical geneticists and genetic counselors and women from this high-risk population. Method: Stage 1. The aid was developed by an expert panel of clinical geneticists, genetic counselors, psychologists, an epidemiologist, an oncologist, linguists and a consumer. It was guided by the international literature on risk communication and a large multi-centre Australian study of risk communication. The 13 page full-color communication aid used varying formats of words, numbers, graphs and pie-charts to address (a) the woman's subjective risk; (b) the population risk of breast cancer; c) the risk of inherited breast cancer; (d) the cumulative risk for women with BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations; (e) family risk factors; (f) the woman's suitability for genetic testing; (h) screening and management recommendations, and (i) a re-assessment of the woman's subjective risk. Stage 2: A before-after pilot study of 38 women who were unaffected with breast cancer and were attending four Australian familial cancer clinics was undertaken. Baseline and follow-up questionnaires were completed by 27 women. Outcomes were compared to those observed in 107 similar women undergoing genetic counseling without the communication aid in 2001. Results: The risk communication aid appears to be beneficial; breast cancer genetics knowledge improved in some areas and importantly, risk perceptions improved in the cohort receiving the communication aid. Psychological measures showed no difference in anxiety or depression between the group receiving the communication aid and the comparison cohort. Women and clinicians were very positive about the usefulness of the communication aid as an adjunct to the genetic counseling consultation.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)393-405
    Number of pages13
    JournalJournal of Genetic Counseling
    Volume15
    Issue number5
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Oct 2006

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