Background: The recent identification of several BRCA1/BRCA2 founder mutations among Ashkenazi Jewish individuals has led to increased salience of BRCA1/BRCA2 testing for Jewish individuals. Little is known about interest in BRCA1/BRCA2 testing among Ashkenazi Jews from the general population. Furthermore, previous research has not generally evaluated the impact of education on interest in testing among individuals from the general population. The goal of the current study was to examine whether a brief educational booklet regarding BRCA1/BRCA2 testing would influence knowledge, attitudes, and interest in testing among Ashkenazi Jewish women from the general population.
Methods: After a baseline telephone interview, participants were randomized to receive either genetic testing educational print materials (n = 195 women) or general breast cancer education control materials (n = 196 women). One month after receiving these materials, the authors reassessed knowledge, attitudes, and interest in BRCA1/BRCA2 gene testing.
Results: Relative to the breast cancer education control materials, the genetic testing education materials led to increased knowledge, increased perception of the risks and limitations of testing, and decreased interest in obtaining a BRCA1/BRCA2 mutation test.
Conclusions: These data indicate that preliminary print education can be used to educate low-risk individuals about BRCA1/BRCA2 genetic testing. This approach may be used to educate low-risk individuals about the benefits and risks/limitations of BRCA1/BRCA2 testing, so that they can make informed decisions about whether to pursue genetic counseling.
Copyright 2001 American Cancer Society.