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Tool Assesses Psychosocial Problems in Genetic Counseling

Questionnaire helps counselors address psychosocial issues in genetic counseling for cancer

Tool Assesses Psychosocial Problems in Genetic Counseling

FRIDAY, July 25, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- A questionnaire improves discussion of psychosocial problems during genetic counseling sessions for cancer, according to research published online July 21 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Willem Eijzenga, of The Netherlands Cancer Institute in Amsterdam, and colleagues evaluated the effect of a questionnaire in assessing psychosocial problems during cancer genetic counseling. All participants completed the questionnaire and were randomly assigned to either an intervention group (127 counselees), in which counselors received the results of the questionnaire before the session, or a control group (119 counselees).

The researchers found that psychosocial problems were more frequently discussed during the cancer genetic counseling session for participants in the intervention group than for those in the control group (P = 0.004). Counselors were significantly more aware of psychosocial problems of the counselees in the intervention group. Counselors initiated more discussion of psychosocial problems in the intervention group (P < 0.001) without increasing the duration of the counseling session. No significant differences were observed between the groups with regard to management of psychosocial problems. Participants in the intervention group had lower levels of cancer worries (P = 0.005) and distress (P = 0.02) after counseling.

"The routine assessment of psychosocial problems by questionnaire facilitates genetic counselors' recognition and discussion of their clients' psychosocial problems and reduces clients' distress levels," the authors write.

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