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Evaluation of Nurses and Genetic Counselors as Providers of Education About Breast Cancer Susceptibility Testing

Barbara A. Bernhardt
Gail Geller
Teresa Doksum
Sharon A. Metz
ONF 2000, 27(1), 33-39 DOI:

Purpose/Objectives: To compare outcomes of pretest education about breast cancer susceptibility testing provided by nurses and genetic counselors.

Design: Two-group, post-test only evaluation of an educational intervention.

Setting: A tertiary care hospital.

Sample: 87 women who had a first-degree relative with premenopausal breast cancer; six specially-trained providers (four genetic counselors and two nurses).

Methods: Self-administered questionnaire completed immediately following education sessions.

Main Research Variables: Subjects' understanding of the limitations of testing, perceived autonomy in decision making, and satisfaction; partnership as perceived by subjects and providers.

Findings: After the sessions, 62% of subjects understood the limitations of testing, 98% reported a high degree of perceived autonomy in decision making, 81% were highly satisfied with the session, and 91% reported forming a partnership with their providers. Lower perceived partnership reported by genetic counselors was the only significant difference by provider type.

Conclusions: With training and supervision, nurses and genetic counselors can be equally effective in providing education about genetic testing for breast cancer susceptibility in research settings. Additional research is needed to determine the outcomes of education provided in clinical settings.

Implications for Nursing Practice: As the demand for education about genetic testing for cancer susceptibility increases, nurses need to be educated and trained to provide this service.

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