Journal of Genetic Counseling

, Volume 10, Issue 2, pp 133–150

Qualitative Cancer Genetic Counseling Research, Part I: Ethnography in a Cancer Clinic


    • Department of Human Genetics, Graduate School of Public Health, University of Pittsburgh; and the Cancer Genetics Program which is jointly sponsored byMagee-Womens Hospital (MWH)/The University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI)/The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) Health System
    • Clinical Genetics Branch, Division of Cancer Epidemiology and GeneticsNational Cancer Institute
  • Carol L. McAllister
    • Departments of Medicine, and Obstetrics-Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences at the School of MedicineUniversity of Pittsburgh
  • Wendy S. Rubinstein
    • Department of Human Genetics at the Graduate School of Public HealthUniversity of Pittsburgh
    • Magee-Womems HospitalUniversity of Pittsburgh
    • Cancer Genetics Program, which is jointly sponsored byMWH/UPCI/UPMC (see above under author 1)

DOI: 10.1023/A:1009491714527

Cite this article as:
Peters, J.A., McAllister, C.L. & Rubinstein, W.S. Journal of Genetic Counseling (2001) 10: 133. doi:10.1023/A:1009491714527


This is a report of the experience of several months' ethnographic research by a genetic counselor researcher in a cancer treatment clinic. One goal of the exercise was to directly experience a method of qualitative research known as ethnography, which relies heavily on participant-observation, in an applied clinical setting. Another goal was to explore a previously undescribed research area in the genetic counseling literature, namely, the meaning of cancer and cancer treatment for affected individuals and their support companions. Here we report on a personal account of the experiences of conducting and publishing the research. The preliminary analysis and results of this field experience are published elsewhere (Peters et al. (2001) J Genet Counsel 10(2):151–168.). These initial findings support the feasibility of genetic counselors, who are trained in specific social science methodologies, to conduct qualitative research pertinent to genetic counseling practice.

hereditary cancergenetic counselingqualitativebehavioralpsychosocialresearchethnographyanthropologyparticipant-observationfamily

Copyright information

© National Society of Genetic Counselors, Inc. 2001