In-person genetic counselling (GC) is the model typically used to provide patients with information regarding their genetic testing options. Current and emerging demand for genetic testing may overburden the health care system and exceed the available numbers of genetic counsellors. Furthermore, GC is not always available at times and places convenient for patients. There is little evidence that the in-person model alone is always optimal and alternatives to in-person GC have been studied in genetics and other areas of health care. This review summarizes the published evidence between 1994 and March 2014 for interactive e-learning and decisional support e-tools that could be used in pre-test GC. A total of 21 papers from 15 heterogeneous studies of interactive e-learning tools, with or without decision aids, were reviewed. Study populations, designs, and outcomes varied widely but most used an e-tool as an adjunct to conventional GC. Knowledge acquisition and decisional comfort were achieved and the e-tools were generally well-accepted by users. In a time when health care budgets are constrained and availability of GC is limited, research is needed to determine the specific circumstances in which e-tools might replace or supplement some of the functions of genetic counsellors.
Keywords: decision aids; decision-making; e-counselling; e-learning; e-tools genetic counselling; genetic testing.
© 2014 John Wiley & Sons A/S. Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.