Health Care Provider Perceptions of Caring for Individuals with Inherited Pancreatic Cancer Risk

  • Meghan L. UnderhillEmail author
  • Rachel Pozzar
  • Daniel Chung
  • Mandeep Sawhney
  • Mathew Yurgelun


Recent national guidelines recommend genetic risk assessment for all patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, yet individuals with pancreatic cancer obtain genetic testing at suboptimal rates. Both patient and provider factors play a role in adherence to genetic testing recommendations. The purpose of this study was to understand health care provider perspectives of caring for patients with inherited pancreatic cancer risk. The study was a cross-sectional mixed method study utilizing a qualitative interview and a survey. The study sample included health care providers who provide care for patients with pancreatic cancer or inherited risk. Qualitative data were analyzed using content analysis, while quantitative data were summarized using descriptive statistics. Thirty participants had complete interview data and 29 completed a survey. The sample was comprised of physicians (n = 17), genetic counselors (n = 6), nurses (n = 3), and social workers (n = 3). Respondents were less confident in their ability to identify patients with inherited pancreatic cancer risk compared with other hereditary cancer syndromes. Several challenges were identified including the pancreatic cancer illness trajectory; lack of evidence-based practice guidelines; difficulty interpreting genetic test results; and difficulty following up on referrals. Participants perceived a lack of educational resources for patients with inherited pancreatic cancer risk. Health care providers who care for individuals with inherited pancreatic cancer risk face challenges that are distinct from those encountered during the care of individuals for other hereditary cancers. There is a need for additional resources at the patient-, provider-, and system-level.


Pancreatic cancer Inherited risk Health care provider perspective Qualitative research 



This work was conducted with the support of a KL2 award (PI: Underhill-Blazey) (an appointed KL2 award) from Harvard Catalyst | The Harvard Clinical and Translational Science Center (National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, National Institutes of Health Award KL2 TR002542). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of Harvard Catalyst, Harvard University and its affiliated academic healthcare centers, or the National Institutes of Health.


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Copyright information

© American Association for Cancer Education 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dana-Farber Cancer InstituteBostonUSA
  2. 2.Massachusetts General HospitalBostonUSA
  3. 3.Beth Israel Deaconess Medical CenterBostonUSA

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