Challenges for providing genetic counselling in Colombian genetic clinics: the viewpoint of the physicians providing genetic consultations
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- Rodas-Pérez, C., Clarke, A., Powell, J. et al. J Community Genet (2015) 6: 301. doi:10.1007/s12687-015-0237-1
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This study explores the provision of clinical genetic services in Colombia, in order to promote improvements in these services. We carried out semi-structured interviews with 20 doctors working in genetic clinics, and we report the challenges in providing genetic counselling that they have identified. Education and training in genetics in Colombian medical schools were described as inadequate, and interviewees found that many of their medical colleagues knew too little to be able to refer appropriately to a genetics service. The doctors interviewed recognised their own limitations, including lack of knowledge, absence of training in communication skills and the strong influence of religious beliefs on the consultations of some colleagues. There may also be communication problems during the consultation: patients may fail to understand the explanations given or to accept the incurable nature of genetic conditions. There are also problems with access, because genetic services are not covered by the health insurance system in Colombia. More training in genetics is required at medical schools in Colombia, at the undergraduate and postgraduate level. There was a consensus that most medical specialities are limited in their knowledge, awareness and understanding of genetics. Furthermore, many medical geneticists did not believe that other health professionals should work as genetic counsellors. These findings may assist in the development of improved genetic counselling services in Colombia and in the establishment of an enhanced academic curriculum of basic and clinical genetics at Colombian universities.