“I Didn’t Know It Existed Before You Called”: Protestant Clergy Experience, Education and Perceptions Regarding Genetics
- 371 Downloads
Despite the intrinsic role religious/spiritual (hereafter, R/S) beliefs have in patient clinical decision-making and crisis coping, there is little research exploring the relationship that exists between clergy (professionals who provide R/S counsel and guidance) and genetic counseling patients. This qualitative, exploratory study was designed to explore Protestant clergy (N = 8) perceptions of and experience with genetics-related issues. Data analysis revealed that a wide range of R/S perceptions regarding genetics-related issues exist within Protestantism, Protestant clergy have a basic understanding of genetic testing and conditions, and while directive counseling is inherent to Protestant clergy counseling, there appears to exist two opposing styles: unbiased and biased. Based on this information, there are two main implications for genetic counseling clinical practice. First, R/S assessments need to be increasingly implemented into genetic counseling sessions, so that the psychosocial needs of patients with specific R/S beliefs can be identified and addressed. An increase in R/S assessments may be accomplished by increased exposure in genetic counselor training, continuing education opportunities, and by establishing relationships with board-certified, professional chaplains. Second, genetic counselors can influence the genetic education and experience of clergy by raising awareness within their own R/S assemblies. Doing so can also serve to further educate genetic counselors in the R/S beliefs of their own traditions, thus increasing sensitivity, empathy and the quality of care provided.
KeywordsGenetic counseling Genetics Clergy Protestant Religious beliefs Spiritual beliefs
A version of this manuscript has been submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master’s in Genetics Counseling, to the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. The first author gratefully acknowledges members of the Research Advisory Committee: Daniel Grossoehme, D.Min. (Chair), Judith Ragsdale, Ph.D. and Lisa Vaughn, Ph.D., for their guidance, collaboration and support.
- Anderson, R. R. (2009). Religious traditions and prenatal counseling. American Journal of Medical Genetics, 151(C), 52–61.Google Scholar
- Bartlett, V. L., & Johnson, R. L. (2009). God and genes in the caring professions: clinician and clergy perceptions of religion and genetics. American Journal of Medical Genetics, 151(C), 41–51.Google Scholar
- Baumiller, R. C. (1988). A workbook for pastoral care of individuals and families with special needs. Washington, DC: National Center for Education in Maternal and Child Health.Google Scholar
- Charmaz, K. (2006). Constructing grounded theory: a practical guide through qualitative analysis. California: Sage.Google Scholar
- Churchill, L. R. (2009). Religion, spirituality, and genetics: mapping the terrain for research purposes. American Journal of Medical Genetics, 151(C), 6–12.Google Scholar
- Cole-Turner, R. & Waters, B. (1996). Pastoral Genetics: Theology and Care at the Beginning of Life. Pilgrim Press.Google Scholar
- Galanter, M., Glickman, L., Dermatis, H., Tracy, K., & McMahon, C. (2008). Addressing patients’ spirituality in medical treatment. Primary Psychiatry, 15(9), 82–90.Google Scholar
- Geller, G., Micco, E., Silver, R., Kolodner, K., & Bernhardt, B. (2009). The role and impact of personal faith and religion among genetic service providers. American Journal of Medical Genetics, 151(C), 31–40.Google Scholar
- Grossoehme, D.H., Ragsdale, J.R., Snow, A. & Seid, M. (2011). We were chosen as a family: parents’ evolving use of religion when their child has cystic fibrosis. J. of Relig. Health.Google Scholar
- International Association of Biblical Counselors. (2010). Counseling God’s Way. http://www.iabc.net. Accessed 09 February 2012.
- Kosmin, B. A., & Keysar, A. (2009). American religious identification survey (ARIS 2008). Hartford: Trinity College.Google Scholar
- National Digest. (1981, July 18). Clergy-scientist conference looks at counseling those with birth defects. St. Petersburg Times, p. 10. http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=pkpSAAAAIBAJ&sjid=NHsDAAAAIBAJ&pg=4930%2C2598750. Accessed 23 February 2012.
- National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. (2011). What is sickle cell anemia? Resource document. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/sca/. Accessed February 2011.
- Ragsdale, J. R. (2008). Educating clinical pastoral education supervisors: a grounded theory study of supervisory wisdom. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Antioch University, Yellow Springs, OH.Google Scholar
- Ragsdale, J. R., Holloway, E. L., & Ivy, S. S. (2009). Educating CPE supervisors: a grounded theory study. The Journal of Pastoral Care & Counseling, 63(3–4), 10–14.Google Scholar
- Salamone, J. (2002, November). Spirituality and its inclusion in genetic counseling practice. Strategies in Genetic Counseling: Beyond the Basics, Symposium conducted at annual meeting of the National Society of Genetic Counselors, Phoenix, AZ.Google Scholar
- Swinton, J., & Brock, B. (2007). Theology, Disability and the New Genetics: Why science needs the church. New York: T&T Clark.Google Scholar
- Szaflarski, M. (2008) Cincinnati religious congregations resource book.Google Scholar
- The Compassionate Friends, Inc. (2006). When a child dies: a survey of bereaved parents. Resource document. http://www.compassionatefriends.org/pdf/When_a_Child_Dies-2006_Final.pdf. Accessed January 2011.
- White, M.T. (2000). Spiritual challenges in genetic testing and counseling. Bulletin: Genetics and Faith, vol. 13.Google Scholar
- White, M. T. (2009). Making sense of genetic uncertainty: the role of religion and spirituality. American Journal of Medical Genetics, 151(C), 68–76.Google Scholar