Knowledge about genetic risk for breast cancer and perceptions of genetic testing in a sociodemographically diverse sample

J Behav Med. 2000 Feb;23(1):15-36. doi: 10.1023/a:1005416203239.


Informed consent for genetic testing for breast-ovarian cancer susceptibility requires that women understand basic concepts about the inheritance of cancer susceptibility and the benefits and risks associated with genetic testing. Women awaiting routine medical services (N = 220) were surveyed about their knowledge of breast cancer and cancer genetics and their perceptions of genetic testing and personal risk. There were no racial differences in median income or mean level of education. Compared to Caucasian women, African American women knew significantly less about breast cancer and about genetic risk for breast cancer. African American women had different psychological, social, and economic concerns as evidenced by how they weighted the benefits and risks of genetic testing. This study is the first to assess several dimensions of informed consent for genetic testing among a sociodemographically diverse group. The findings should enable health professionals to target the African American and lower-income populations with the appropriate education and counseling.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blacks*
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Cognition*
  • Demography
  • Female
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Humans
  • Perception*
  • Risk Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Whites*