, Volume 20, Issue 2, pp 178-191
Date: 07 Dec 2010

Genetic Counselors’ Experiences with Adolescent Patients in Prenatal Genetic Counseling

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Abstract

Adolescents comprise a portion of women who present to genetic counselors prenatally. In this study, prenatal genetic counselors (N = 128) were surveyed regarding their perceptions of genetic counseling sessions for adolescent (ages 13–19) and adult (ages 20–34) patients. Counselors perceived differences in methods used to communicate risk information for adolescent versus adult populations. Respondents reported that it is more difficult for adolescents to understand prognostic information than adults. They also noted differences between adult and adolescent populations with respect to the people who typically accompany the patient to the session. Respondents stated that adolescents were accompanied by a parent, friend, or sibling, which differed from adults who reportedly were accompanied by a significant other, father of the pregnancy, or by no one. These findings suggest it is important to recognize that adolescent patients are in a unique stage of their development which may influence a prenatal genetic counseling session.