Journal of Genetic Counseling

, Volume 19, Issue 3, pp 255–268 | Cite as

Interest and Beliefs About BRCA Genetic Counseling Among At-Risk Latinas in New York City

  • Katarina M. SussnerEmail author
  • Lina Jandorf
  • Hayley S. Thompson
  • Heiddis B. Valdimarsdottir
Original Research


Background: Latinas are less likely to use genetic services (counseling and testing) for hereditary breast and/or ovarian cancer risk compared to other ethnic groups. Meanwhile, little is known about barriers to genetic counseling among Latinas at increased risk of inherited breast cancer. Methods: A two-phase pilot study was conducted to examine interest, barriers and beliefs about BRCA genetic counseling among at-risk Latinas in New York City and explore the potential for developing a culturally-tailored narrative educational tool for use in future studies. Phase 1 included quantitative telephone interviews (N = 15) with bilingual participants with a personal diagnosis at a young age and/or family history of breast and/or ovarian cancer. Quantitative results informed development of a narrative prototype educational presentation viewed by a subset of participants (N = 10) in Phase 2 focus groups. Results: Despite barriers, including lack of awareness/knowledge, concerns related to learning cancer risks of family members, and concerns about cost/health insurance, participants reported positive attitudes, beliefs and interest in learning about BRCA genetic counseling. Further, significant increases in knowledge were demonstrated from pre-post presentation (p = 0.04). Conclusion: There is an unmet need to educate at-risk Latinas about BRCA genetic counseling. Culturally-tailored educational materials including narratives may increase knowledge about BRCA genetic counseling among this underserved group. The effectiveness of these approaches should be tested in future research with larger samples.


Genetic counseling BRCA Breast cancer risk Latinas/Hispanic women Cancer genetic services Access to genetic services Beliefs Cross-cultural education Knowledge 



Dr. Sussner’s work described here was supported through the National Cancer Institute Training Grant (R25 CA81137).


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Copyright information

© National Society of Genetic Counselors, Inc. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Katarina M. Sussner
    • 1
    Email author
  • Lina Jandorf
    • 1
  • Hayley S. Thompson
    • 2
  • Heiddis B. Valdimarsdottir
    • 1
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Oncological Sciences, Division of Cancer Prevention and ControlMount Sinai School of MedicineNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Albert Einstein College of Medicine & Cancer Center Department of Epidemiology and Population Science Division of Community Collaboration and Implementation ScienceNew YorkUSA
  3. 3.School of Health and EducationReykjavik UniversityReykjavikIceland
  4. 4.Department of PsychologyUniversity of IcelandReykjavikIceland

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