Genetic Counselling for Cancer and Risk Perception
Authors: Lidén A.; Berglund G.; Hansson M.G.; Rosenquist R.; Sjödén P.-o.; Nordin K.
Source: Acta Oncologica, Volume 42, Number 7, November 2003 , pp. 726-734(9)
Publisher: Informa Healthcare
Abstract:The main aim was to investigate risk perception and psychological distress in individuals attending genetic counselling. A consecutive series of 86 individuals with a diagnosis and/or family history of breast, ovarian or colorectal cancer was included. Risk assessments were performed before and immediately after genetic counselling and at a one-year follow-up. Psychological distress was assessed 1 week before, and 6 weeks, 6 months and 1 year after genetic counselling. The number of individuals who correctly estimated the general risk in the population increased significantly from 35% before to 82% after counselling (p<0.001). One year later, data on general risk estimates showed a significant reduction of the number of correct estimations to 51%, compared with directly after the counselling (p<0.005). In total, 54% estimated their own lifetime risk correctly after the counselling, compared with 17% before (p<0.001) (those with a cancer diagnosis estimated the risk of their children developing cancer). One year later, the number of correct estimations had dropped to 28%. Before the counselling, the majority of the participants overestimated both the general risk and their own/children's risk. The participants experienced moderate levels of psychological distress before the counselling and a decrease of anxiety afterwards (p<0.02). However, half of the participants reported moderate or high distress. There were no differences in psychological distress between those who estimated their risk/children's risk as low, moderate or high or between those who over-, under- or correctly estimated their own/children's risk. Further investigations are needed to develop and adjust the risk information provided to the individual in order to avoid misunderstanding, especially as this information is going to be revealed to family members. Counselling support should be offered to those individuals who experience psychological distress.
Document Type: Research article
Publication date: 2003-11-01