Background: Visual aids are commonly used to supplement genetic counseling (GC) sessions focused on hereditary breast and ovarian cancer (HBOC), given the complexities of discussing inherited diseases with patients. Many genetic providers compile a binder of visual aids (BVA) for use during the GC session. In order to facilitate delivery of GC services across various settings, we sought to determine whether a self-contained genetic counseling aid (GCA) in the form of a self-contained booklet for use during the GC session (but additionally sent home with patients) was comparable to the BVA in terms of: 1) patient knowledge gains; and 2) provider preferences.
Methods: Female patients evaluated for HBOC (N=254) participated in the study along with 5 genetic service providers. Patient knowledge was measured before and after GC using an eleven item scale. Pre-GC and post-GC knowledge scores were compared among the GCA (N=160) and BVA (N=94) groups and overall change in knowledge was evaluated. Descriptive statistics were performed to assess preferences for GCA or BVA among providers.
Results: The median pre-GC knowledge score for patients in both the GCA and BVA groups was 5. The median post-GC score increased to 9 among both groups. Based on provider surveys, all rated the GCA as superior or equivalent to BVA on all characteristics except adaptability.
Conclusion: Our findings suggest that the GCA was equivalent to the BVA in supplementing the GC session for HBOC, given similar increases in HBOC knowledge scores in both groups. Despite equivalent gains in patient knowledge, genetic providers rated the GCA higher on ease of use, compatibility, visual appeal, ability to facilitate patient sharing of information, and provision of personalized risk information and patient resources.