Genetic Counseling

School of Health and Human Sciences

Attitudes of Genetic Counselors Regarding Affective Forecasting and Patient Decision-Making


Capstone Project Committee: Cynthia Khan, PhD, Erin Campbell, MS, LCGC, Randi Culp Stewart, MS, CGC


Affective forecasting refers to how people think they will feel in the future. Forecasting errors are common and well-studied in the fields of Psychology and Behavioral Economics. The impact of forecasting errors has been recently studied in the context of medical decision-making and genomic testing decision-making. This descriptive study evaluated genetic counselors’ familiarity with affective forecasting concepts and errors, their sources of this knowledge, and their perceived impact of affective forecasting for genetic counseling. Participants were recruited from the NSGC (National Society of Genetic Counselors) listserv to complete an online survey. Data was analyzed using Qualtrics and IBM SPSS software and descriptive statistics were generated. There was an optional comment which was examined for themes. A total of 97 completed responses were included for analysis. Almost half of participants (49.5%) reported receiving formal genetic counseling education on at least one affective forecasting concept, with 23.7% receiving formal genetic counseling education on all three concepts. The majority of respondents strongly agreed or agreed that understanding common affective forecasting errors can improve genetic counseling effectiveness (97.5%) and would like to learn more about the role of affective forecasting in medical decision-making (89.7%). Respondent comments represent both the desire to understand these concepts better, as well as an acknowledged difficulty in applying them in a non-directive way. Results of this study indicate that practicing genetic counselors perceive utility in education on the subject of affective forecasting and are receptive to learning ways to help clients reduce their affective forecasting errors. Educational goals in this area can be met in program curricula, postgraduate education, and/or ongoing continuing education efforts.


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