Knowledge, attitudes, and interest in breast-ovarian cancer gene testing: a survey of a large African-American kindred with a BRCA1 mutation

Prev Med. 2001 Dec;33(6):543-51. doi: 10.1006/pmed.2001.0920.


Background: This study assessed counseling and testing needs from the perspective of adult members of a large African-American kindred with a BRCA1 mutation.

Methods: Interviews were conducted with 95 male and female kindred members to elicit information on sociodemographics, attitudes toward health care providers, breast cancer screening behaviors, and religious/spiritual beliefs, as well as to evaluate psychological distress, beliefs, knowledge, and attitudes related to genetic testing.

Results: Knowledge about breast and ovarian cancer genetics was limited. Adherence to screening recommendations was low among females with no personal breast or ovarian cancer history. The majority (67%) wished to discuss risk factors with a health care provider. Most participants (82%) indicated that they would have a genetic test if it were available. Significant predictors of intent to undergo testing were having at least one first-degree relative with breast and/or ovarian cancer (OR = 5.1; 95% CI = 1.2-20.9) and perceived risk of being a gene carrier > or =50% (OR = 64.3; 95% CI = 5.1-803.9) or reporting that they did not know their risk of being a gene carrier (OR = 10.9; 95% CI = 2.1-57.7). Cited barriers to testing included cost and availability.

Conclusion: There is a high interest level in genetic testing despite limited knowledge about cancer genetics among these high-risk African Americans. Our study provides information for designing a genetic education and counseling intervention for this and similar families.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • African Americans / psychology*
  • Aged
  • Blacks / genetics
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Genes, BRCA1*
  • Genetic Testing / psychology*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Income
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mutation*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / genetics*