Background: Lynch syndrome is a hereditary cancer with confirmed carriers at high risk for colorectal (CRC) and extracolonic cancers. The purpose of the current study was to develop a greater understanding of the factors influencing decisions about disease management post-genetic testing.
Methods: The study used a grounded theory approach to data collection and analysis as part of a multiphase project examining the psychosocial and behavioral impact of predictive DNA testing for Lynch syndrome. Individual and small group interviews were conducted with individuals from 10 families with the MSH2 intron 5 splice site mutation or exon 8 deletion. The data from confirmed carriers (n = 23) were subjected to re-analysis to identify key barriers to and/or facilitators of screening and disease management.
Results: Thematic analysis identified personal, health care provider and health care system factors as dominant barriers to and/or facilitators of managing Lynch syndrome. Person-centered factors reflect risk perceptions and decision-making, and enduring screening/disease management. The perceived knowledge and clinical management skills of health care providers also influenced participation in recommended protocols. The health care system barriers/facilitators are defined in terms of continuity of care and coordination of services among providers.
Conclusions: Individuals with Lynch syndrome often encounter multiple barriers to and facilitators of disease management that go beyond the individual to the provider and health care system levels. The current organization and implementation of health care services are inadequate. A coordinated system of local services capable of providing integrated, efficient health care and follow-up, populated by providers with knowledge of hereditary cancer, is necessary to maintain optimal health.