Genetic Counseling

School of Health and Human Sciences

Genetics Counselors’ Attitudes about, Practices of, and Preparedness for Communicating Risk for Psychiatric Illness
 
Capstone Project Committee: Lauren Doyle, MGC, CGC, Sarah Hart, PhD, CGC, Ashley Low, MGC, CGC
 

Psychiatric genetic counseling (PGC) is an emerging subspecialty of clinical genetic counseling. Genetic counselors (GCs) (n=136) were surveyed about their perceptions and attitudes, clinical practice, and self-rated confidence towards providing PGC as well as their utilization of and perceived need for psychiatric genetics resources. 80% of respondents received their most recent training in psychiatric genetics in the last 5 years. Most respondents (85%) denied feelings of discomfort about asking patients if there is a history of psychiatric illness in the family. Most respondents (69%) agreed that it is their role to discuss psychiatric genetics with patients and their families while less than half (47%) agreed that they feel competent to do so. Most participants (43-90%) would refer to an expert in PGC in their area if there was one available depending on the circumstances, but did not know of an expert practicing in their region (81%). These data together suggest that more resources and training need to be made available to help GCs increase competence in psychiatric genetics and/or more professionals are needed to become experts in PGC. Resources perceived to be most useful by respondents were published guidelines or online education focused on individualized risk assessment for psychiatric illness.
 
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