Growing demand for and limited geographic access to genetic counseling services is increasing the need for alternative service delivery models (SDM) like telephone genetic counseling (TGC). Little research has been done on genetic counselors' perspectives of the practice of TGC. We created an anonymous online survey to assess whether telephone genetic counselors believed the tasks identified in the ABGC (American Board of Genetic Counseling) Practice Analysis were performed similarly or differently in TGC compared to in person genetic counseling (IPGC). If there were differences noted, we sought to determine the nature of the differences and if additional training might be needed to address them. Eighty eight genetic counselors with experience in TGC completed some or all of the survey. Respondents identified differences in 13 (14.8%) of the 88 tasks studied. The tasks identified as most different in TGC were: "establishing rapport through verbal and nonverbal interactions" (60.2%; 50/83 respondents identified the task as different), "recognizing factors affecting the counseling interaction" (47.8%; 32/67), "assessing client/family emotions, support, etc." (40.1%; 27/66) and "educating clients about basic genetic concepts" (35.6%; 26/73). A slight majority (53.8%; 35/65) felt additional training was needed to communicate information without visual aids and more effectively perform psychosocial assessments. In summary, although a majority of genetic counseling tasks are performed similarly between TGC and IPGC, TGC counselors recognize that specific training in the TGC model may be needed to address the key differences.
Keywords: Genetic counselor tasks; Genetic counselor training; Service delivery models; Telephone genetic counseling.