Participation in breast cancer genetic counseling: The influence of educational level, ethnic background, and risk perception

Julie Culver, Wylie Burke, Yutaka Yasui, Sharon Durfy, Nancy Press

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    44 Scopus citations


    Genetic counseling has been suggested as a means of providing information and support to women with a family history of breast cancer. Yet women who undergo cancer genetic counseling in the United States generally consist of only a subset of those at risk, namely well-educated, upper-middle class, European American and Jewish women. We report outcomes from a study that provided a unique opportunity to determine whether women of African American, European American, Native American, or Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry have varying interest in having cancer genetic counseling. The study offered a genetic counseling session to 97 women with a family history of breast cancer who were participating in a larger interview study designed to assess attitudes toward genetic testing for breast cancer. The study offered genetic counseling free of charge to all study participants with a family history of breast cancer, removing the potential barriers of cost, the need for a physician referral, and lack of awareness of genetic counseling. Fifty women out of the 97 women offered genetic counseling (52%) accepted the offer by completing a session. Those who accepted genetic counseling had a higher educational level, a higher perceived risk of breast cancer, and were more likely to expect a positive BRCA1 or BRCA2 genetic test if they were to undergo genetic testing. When controlling for education level, there was no correlation between the participants' ethnic background and acceptance of a genetic counseling session. Outreach efforts to minority populations may increase awareness of the availability of genetic counseling and may facilitate participation by such populations.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)215-231
    Number of pages17
    JournalJournal of Genetic Counseling
    Issue number3
    StatePublished - 2001


    • BRCA1
    • BRCA2
    • Ethnic minorities
    • Family history
    • Genetic testing

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Genetics(clinical)


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