Journal of Genetic Counseling

, Volume 24, Issue 6, pp 961–970 | Cite as

Randomized Trial of Telegenetics vs. In-Person Cancer Genetic Counseling: Cost, Patient Satisfaction and Attendance

  • Adam H. Buchanan
  • Santanu K. Datta
  • Celette Sugg Skinner
  • Gail P. Hollowell
  • Henry F. Beresford
  • Thomas Freeland
  • Benjamin Rogers
  • John Boling
  • P. Kelly Marcom
  • Martha B. Adams
Original Research


Telegenetics—genetic counseling via live videoconferencing—can improve access to cancer genetic counseling (CGC) in underserved areas, but studies on cancer telegenetics have not applied randomized methodology or assessed cost. We report cost, patient satisfaction and CGC attendance from a randomized trial comparing telegenetics with in-person CGC among individuals referred to CGC in four rural oncology clinics. Participants (n = 162) were randomized to receive CGC at their local oncology clinic in-person or via telegenetics. Cost analyses included telegenetics system; mileage; and personnel costs for genetic counselor, IT specialist, and clinic personnel. CGC attendance was tracked via study database. Patient satisfaction was assessed 1 week post-CGC via telephone survey using validated scales. Total costs were $106 per telegenetics patient and $244 per in-person patient. Patient satisfaction did not differ by group on either satisfaction scale. In-person patients were significantly more likely to attend CGC than telegenetics patients (89 vs. 79 %, p = 0.03), with bivariate analyses showing an association between lesser computer comfort and lower attendance rate (Chi-square = 5.49, p = 0.02). Our randomized trial of telegenetics vs. in-person counseling found that telegenetics cost less than in-person counseling, with high satisfaction among those who attended. This study provides support for future randomized trials comparing multiple service delivery models on longer-term psychosocial and behavioral outcomes.


Genetic counseling Telemedicine Cancer genes Cost analysis Patient satisfaction 



The authors wish to thank the Duke Cancer Network and participating clinics for their support of this study, and of genetic counseling in underserved communities.


The study described here was supported by grant DISP0707781 from Susan G. Komen for the Cure, which had no role in the design of the study described here or in the development or approval of this manuscript. Portions of the salaries of Mr. Buchanan, Drs. Datta, Hollowell, and Adams, and Mr. Beresford, Mr. Freeland, Mr. Rogers, and Mr. Boling were funded by this grant. Drs. Skinner and Marcom did not receive salary or other support from this grant.

This manuscript was made possible by Grant Number 1 UL1 RR024128-01 from the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR), a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and NIH Roadmap for Medical Research. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official view of NCRR or NIH.

Conflict of Interest

Mr. Buchanan’s work has been funded by the NIH. Dr. Datta’s work has been funded by the Department of Defense and VA Health Services Research & Development. Dr. Skinner’s work has been funded by the NIH and the Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas. Dr. Hollowell’s work has been funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Mr. Rogers’ work has been funded by the Alpha-1 Foundation. Dr. Marcom’s work has been funded by the NIH and Department of Defense. Dr. Adams has served as a consultant to Sanofi, Drexel University, CustomID and MED-IQ. The authors declare that these relationships are not directly or indirectly related to the research described in this manuscript.

Human Studies and Informed Consent

All procedures followed were in accordance with the ethical standards of the responsible committee on human experimentation (institutional and national) and with the Helsinki Declaration of 1975, as revised in 2000. Informed consent was obtained from all patients for being included in the study.

Animal Studies

This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© National Society of Genetic Counselors, Inc. 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Adam H. Buchanan
    • 1
  • Santanu K. Datta
    • 2
    • 3
  • Celette Sugg Skinner
    • 4
  • Gail P. Hollowell
    • 5
  • Henry F. Beresford
    • 6
  • Thomas Freeland
    • 7
  • Benjamin Rogers
    • 8
  • John Boling
    • 6
  • P. Kelly Marcom
    • 1
    • 2
  • Martha B. Adams
    • 2
  1. 1.Genomic Medicine InstituteGeisinger Health SystemDanvilleUSA
  2. 2.Department of MedicineDuke University Medical CenterDurhamUSA
  3. 3.Center for Health Services Research in Primary CareDurham VA Medical CenterDurhamUSA
  4. 4.Department of Clinical Sciences and Harold C Simmons Cancer CenterUniversity of Texas – SouthwesternDallasUSA
  5. 5.Department of BiologyNorth Carolina Central UniversityDurhamUSA
  6. 6.School of NursingDuke University Medical CenterDurhamUSA
  7. 7.Office of Information TechnologyDuke UniversityDurhamUSA
  8. 8.Department of MedicineMedical University of South CarolinaCharlestonUSA

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