, Volume 18, Issue 2, pp 185-194
Date: 11 Feb 2009

Cancer Genetic Counselees’ Self-Reported Psychological Distress, Changes in Life, and Adherence to Recommended Surveillance Programs 3–7 Years Post Counseling

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Abstract

The aim of the present cross-sectional study was to investigate psychological distress, changes in life, adherence to surveillance programs and satisfaction with cancer genetic counseling based on Swedish participants’ self-reported data. A total of 218 probands (72% response rate) affected by breast, breast/ovarian or colorectal cancer and/or a family history of cancer were surveyed 3–7 years after receiving cancer genetic counseling. Participants reported a relatively high level of anxiety and a low level of depression. Probands affected by colorectal cancer reported a higher level of depression than did non-affected individuals with a family history of colorectal cancer. Overall, the participants reported moderate changes in family relations, priorities and appreciation of daily life activities. The majority of at-risk probands reportedly adhered to recommended surveillance programs. The mean level of satisfaction with cancer genetic counseling was high. About half of the participants would have accepted additional counseling sessions, contact with a psychologist or further help concerning informing family members. The present results indicate no adverse effects of genetic counseling, but they do suggest that typical counseling procedures could be improved by provision of additional psychosocial support.