L.E. van der Kolk
- Effect of routine assessment of specific psychosocial problems on personalized communication, counselors' awareness, and distress levels in cancer genetic counseling practice: a randomized controlled trial
- Journal of Clinical Oncology
- Volume | Issue number
- 32 | 27
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Psychology Research Institute (PsyRes)
Purpose: This study evaluated the efficacy of a cancer genetics-specific questionnaire in facilitating communication about, awareness of, and management of psychosocial problems, as well as in lowering distress levels.
Methods: Individuals referred to genetic counseling for cancer at two family cancer clinics in the Netherlands were randomly assigned to an intervention or a control group. All participants completed the psychosocial questionnaire before counseling. In the intervention group, the counselors received the results of this questionnaire before the counseling session. All sessions were audiotaped for content analysis. Primary outcomes were the frequency with which psychosocial problems were discussed, the genetic counselors' awareness of these problems, and their management. Secondary outcomes included cancer worries and psychological distress, duration and dynamics of the counseling, and satisfaction.
Results: The frequency with which psychosocial problems were discussed with 246 participating counselees was significantly higher in the intervention group (n = 127) than in the control group (n = 119; P = .004), as was the counselors' awareness of psychosocial problems regarding hereditary predisposition (P < .001), living with cancer (P = .01), and general emotions (P < .001). Counselors initiated more discussion of psychosocial problems in the intervention group (P < .001), without affecting the length of the counseling session. No significant differences were found on management (P = .19). The intervention group reported significantly lower levels of cancer worries (P = .005) and distress (P = .02) after counseling.
Conclusion: The routine assessment of psychosocial problems by questionnaire facilitates genetic counselors' recognition and discussion of their clients' psychosocial problems and reduces clients' distress levels.
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