Genetic counseling issues in Latinos

Genet Test. Fall 2001;5(3):193-200. doi: 10.1089/10906570152742236.


Close to 12% (33 million) of the U.S. population is of Latino ethnocultural background, and it is estimated by the year 2005 they will become the largest ethnic minority. This article describes the demographic, social, economic, and cultural characteristics of the Latino population in the United States. Main health problems of Latinos and barriers to access to equitable health care are described. Health beliefs of relevance in the provision of health care in general, and of genetic counseling in particular, are reviewed. Some key nuances of genetic counseling to Latinos are discussed, such as the problems of language and other pitfalls in communication, the role of nondirectiveness in Latino culture, the medicalization of pregnancy, the language of prospective risks, and the meaning of disability. To provide culturally appropriate genetic counseling to Latinos, genetic professionals must be conversant with their personal and social history, culture, and traditions. At the same time, cultural stereotyping must be avoided, as the individuality of each patient must be recognized, acknowledged and respected.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude to Health
  • Culture
  • Ethics
  • Genetic Counseling / psychology*
  • Health Status
  • Hispanic Americans / psychology*
  • Hispanic Americans / statistics & numerical data
  • Population Dynamics