Genetic Counselling Did Not Increase Anxiety in Breast and Ovarian Cancer Patients Interview with:
Mag. Dr. Anne Oberguggenberger PhD
Medizinische Universität Innsbruck
Department für Psychiatrie, Psychotherapie und Psychosomatik
Innsbruck Austria What is the background for this study?

Response: Genetic counseling and testing is increasingly integrated in routine clinical care for breast- and ovarian cancer (BOC). Knowledge on follow-up psychosocial outcomes in all different groups of counselees is essential in order to improve follow-up care and counselees’ quality of life. What are the main findings?
• Genetic counseling for  breast- and ovarian cancer does, overall, not have deleterious psychological consequences in the follow-up period. Distress is alike between counsellees with and without cancer diagnosis in the follow-up period.
• However, about a fifth of counsellees experiences clinically relevant anxiety.
• Counselees who decline from testing including undecided counselees seem to have the highest cancer worry and lowest satisfaction with decisions.
• Anxiety and depression is time-dependent, i.e. significantly decreased with time. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Our results illustrate the efficacy of genetic counseling and testing as part of routine care for individuals at risk for  breast- and ovarian cancer.
Consequently, result suggest relevant clinical implications for the counseling process: Certain subgroups of counselees are more vulnerable to distress in the follow-up period, namely older counselees and those with a recent cancer diagnosis. Decision certainty seems to be a key issue for follow-up distress and satisfaction. The identification of risk factors for distress together with decision support should be a major focus in the counseling process including also psychological counseling. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: For future research on psychological consequences of genetic counseling and testing, we recommend focusing on the group of decliners and undecided counselees in order to identify their specific care demands. Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: We would like to thank all study participants for sharing their experiences with their genetic counseling for breast- and ovarian cancer and the research team from the Medical University of Innsbruck involved in the study for their great work. Thank you for your contribution to the community.


Psychosocial outcomes and counselee satisfaction following genetic counseling for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer: A patient-reported outcome study
Journal of Psychosomatic Research
Volume 89, October 2016, Pages 39–45
Anne Oberguggenberger, PhD et al
Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

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