Journal of Genetic Counseling

, Volume 10, Issue 2, pp 151–168 | Cite as

Qualitative Cancer Genetic Counseling Research, Part II: Findings from a Exploratory Ethnographic Study in a Cancer Clinic

  • June A. Peters
  • Carol L. McAllister
  • Wendy S. Rubinstein


This is a report of the preliminary findings of a brief exploratory ethnographic study in a cancer diagnosis and treatment clinic. The main research purpose was to explore the meaning of cancer and cancer treatment to patients themselves and to their relatives and close friends. The methods are described in detail in a paper focusing on the experiences of being a novice ethnographer (Peters et al. (2001) J Genet Counsel 10(2):133–150.). The preliminary results of this exploratory fieldwork indicate that the experience of attending a cancer treatment clinic for evaluation and/or treatment is a complex social, emotional as well as medical process for patients and families. Themes with relevance to genetic counselors that emerged from this early observation period included ideas about causes of cancer, the complex nature of families and kinship, coping and support, use of food, and healing. These initial findings have implications for genetic counseling practice and hopefully will stimulate more qualitative social and behavioral research in cancer genetic counseling.

hereditary cancer genetic counseling qualitative behavioral psychosocial research ethnography anthropology participant-observation family 


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Copyright information

© National Society of Genetic Counselors, Inc. 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • June A. Peters
    • 1
    • 2
  • Carol L. McAllister
    • 3
  • Wendy S. Rubinstein
    • 4
    • 5
    • 6
  1. 1.Department of Human Genetics, Graduate School of Public HealthUniversity of Pittsburgh; and the Cancer Genetics Program which is jointly sponsored by Magee-Womens Hospital (MWH)/The University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI)/The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) Health SystemPittsburgh
  2. 2.Clinical Genetics Branch, Division of Cancer Epidemiology and GeneticsNational Cancer Institute (NCI)RockvilleMaryland
  3. 3.Department of Human Services Administration, Graduate School of Public Health, and Anthropology DepartmentUniversity of PittsburghPittsburgh
  4. 4.Departments of Medicine, and Obstetrics-Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences at the School of MedicineUniversity of PittsburghPittsburgh
  5. 5.Department of Human Genetics at the Graduate School of Public HealthUniversity of PittsburghPittsburgh
  6. 6.Cancer Genetics Program, which is jointly sponsored by MWH/UPCI/UPMC (see above under author 1)Pittsburgh

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