Effectiveness of Cancer Risk Counseling

Several studies have attempted to assess the effectiveness and efficacy of genetic counseling and have identified a number of common predictors of response. Utilization of genetic counseling services is associated with higher socioeconomic status and educational level and, in the setting of prenatal genetic conditions, with intention to have children.30 Understanding and retention of the information received have been found to be higher among individuals who are self-referred, those with higher educational levels, and among those families at the higher risk levels. Multiple counseling sessions have been shown to boost understanding and information retention.31 Another consistent observation has been that, although it is important, the information obtained at a genetic counseling session is not the only factor contributing to risk-related decisions. Rather, perception of risk is a concept formed over a person's lifetime and is a result of internalizing personal experiences and beliefs. Decisions made in the genetic counseling setting, therefore, reflect a complicated interplay of expectations, emotions, and value judgments. As a result, the genetic counselor is likely to be most successful when the information shared during genetic counseling is provided in the context of the counselee's personal orientation and belief system.

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