Psycho-social Counselling in Predictive Genetic Testing for Cancer: The Association Between Number of Supportive Sessions and Client Characteristics as Assessed by Psycho-social Workers

  • E. D. Mollema
  • E. M. A. Smets
  • M. E. Richard
  • A. M. Schiphorst
  • N. J. Leschot
Original Research


Given the increased demand on genetic services, it is important to identify clients who may require relatively more extensive psychosocial support. This paper describes which client characteristics, as assessed in the first psycho-social counselling session, were associated with requiring relatively more psycho-social support (≥3 sessions) in the process of predictive testing for cancer. The study population consisted of 244 counselees for hereditary cancer. Data were derived from an electronic data-base, used by psycho-social workers for the systematic registration of relevant details of each counselling session. Data were analysed for two respective groups: (A) patients who had a known mutation in the family and (B) patients with an as yet unknown mutation in the family. Results show that two or more psychosocial sessions were given if the information derived from the first session indicated the client to have childhood experiences with cancer (in group A), to experience the family role and/or the psychological impact as burdensome (in both groups) or to experience the social impact as burdensome (in group B). We conclude that the first assessment by a psychosocial worker already provides valuable information on the psychological support needs of patients. These findings provide insight into possible problem areas for clients dealing with predictive genetic testing.


Psycho-social counselling Predictive genetic testing Hereditary cancer 


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Copyright information

© National Society of Genetic Counselors, Inc. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • E. D. Mollema
    • 1
  • E. M. A. Smets
    • 1
    • 2
  • M. E. Richard
    • 1
  • A. M. Schiphorst
    • 1
  • N. J. Leschot
    • 1
  1. 1.Departments of Clinical Genetics and Medical PsychologyAcademic Medical CenterAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Medical PsychologyAcademic Medical CenterAmsterdamThe Netherlands

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