, Volume 10, Issue 2, pp 133-150

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

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Abstract

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.

This work was completed at the University of Pittsburgh before employment at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and does not represent the views of the NCI, the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Health and Human Services, or the Federal Government