Journal of Community Genetics

, Volume 3, Issue 4, pp 265–274 | Cite as

Who is being referred to cancer genetic counseling? Characteristics of counselees and their referral

  • E. van Riel
  • S. van Dulmen
  • M. G. E. M. Ausems
Original Article


Both physician and patient play a role in the referral process for cancer genetic counseling. Access to such counseling is not optimal because some eligible patients are not being reached by current referral practice. We aimed to identify factors associated with the initiator of referral. During a 7-month period, we recorded demographic characteristics like gender, personal and family history of cancer, ethnicity and eligibility for genetic testing for 406 consecutive counselees using a specially designed questionnaire. Counselees were seen in a university hospital or a community hospital (n = 7) in the Netherlands. We also recorded educational level of each counselee, clinical setting and who initiated referral. Descriptive statistics were used to describe the counselees’ general characteristics. We analysed the association between counselee characteristics and the initiator of referral by logistic regression. The majority of counselees seemed to have initiated referral themselves but were indeed eligible for genetic testing. In comparison to the general population in the Netherlands, the counselees had a higher level of education, and there were fewer immigrants, although a higher level of education was not found to be a facilitating factor for referral. The clinical setting where a counselee was seen was associated with initiator of referral, although this relationship was not straightforward. There is a complex interaction between clinical setting and initiator of referral, which warrants further research to elucidate the factors involved in this relationship. Patients seen in cancer genetic counseling do not reflect the general population in terms of educational level or ethnicity.


Cancer genetic counseling Initiative Referral process Education Accessibility 


Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • E. van Riel
    • 1
  • S. van Dulmen
    • 2
  • M. G. E. M. Ausems
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Medical GeneticsUniversity Medical Centre UtrechtUtrechtThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Netherlands Institute for Health Services Research (NIVEL)UtrechtThe Netherlands

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